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August 23, 2017

Rural is more than agriculture

When Rumsfeld introduced the world to known knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns, he was talking about Iraq and WMD. However these knowledge distinctions could be applied equally well to Brexit, with a heavy emphasis on the last category. Scottish Government is preparing for the day when these unknown unknowns eventually become known and a National Council of Rural Advisors has been established to support this process. But looking down the list of appointments, you could be forgiven for thinking the only issue of any real consequence in rural Scotland is farming. 


Scottish Government

The National Council of Rural Advisers was announced at the Royal Highland Show on 22nd June 2017.

The National Council will provide advice on the potential implications of Scotland leaving the EU as part of the UK, and make recommendations on future policy and support, with the aim of ensuring a vibrant, sustainable and productive rural economy.

The Co-chairs are Lorne Crerar and Alison Milne.

Lorne Crerar joined the Board of HIE in April 2008 and was appointed as Chair in March 2012. Lorne is a founding partner and Chairman of leading Scottish commercial law firm Harper Macleod LLP.

Alison Milne is a self-employed consultant, currently representing the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association on matters relating to agricultural policy.  Alison also farms a mixed arable and livestock business, in partnership with her husband, mother and father-in-law.  In this role Alison was a driving force in hosting the Fife HGCA arable Monitor Farm from 2013 to 2016.

Council Members:

Archie Gibson – Archie Gibson is Food & Drink Federation Scotland’s Chair.  He is also the Managing Director of Agrico UK Ltd, a subsidiary of a Dutch farmers’ cooperative with 800 members. The company is a leading breeder and merchant of seed potatoes supplying more than 80 countries worldwide. Archie gained experience in a variety of land management roles producing store lambs and cattle before joining the food industry in 1999. He represented Scottish supply chain interests in a far reaching review on food defence and resilience led by the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) and British Standards Institute (BSI), resulting in the publication of PAS 96 Defending Food & Drink

David Sulman – David Sulman is Executive Director of the United Kingdom Forest Products Association (UKFPA) which represents the technical  and commercial  interests of  processors  of British – grown timber and Secretary to the Scottish Timber Trade Association, the trade association which represents the interests of timber importers and merchants in Scotland.  He is a member of various Forestry Commission expert groups/committees, is involved in skills development matters, is a member of the Timber Transport Forum and Chairman of its Technical Working Group and also Chairman of the Scottish Strategic Timber Transport Scheme’s Assessment Panel. David is involved in the work of the Forest Industry Safety Accord.

James Graham – James Graham has been Chief Executive of the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society since 1998. SAOS is the membership body of 65 agricultural co-operatives trading in Scotland whose collective throughput in 2016 exceeded £2.2 billion. He has worked in various capacities as company secretary, advisor, consultant, Chief Executive and non-executive Director in the coop ‘agri-food’ sector for 33 years and is an acknowledged specialist in agricultural co-operatives and supply chain collaboration in the food and drink industry.

Sarah Simpson – Sarah Simpson is a director of a dairy farm at Garlieston, near Newton Stewart in Galloway, together with her husband Peter.  She also works as a consultant to a group of dairy farms within Dumfries and Galloway providing benchmarking advice and information.    Prior to farming, Sarah was Director of Policy with NFU Scotland.

Alan Laidlaw – Alan Laidlaw is Chief Executive of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS) – a registered charity with a remit to promote and protect the interests of rural Scotland.  Based at the Society’s headquarters at the Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston, Alan was appointed to the role in August 2016 after spending 11 years with the Crown Estate Scotland, latterly as Head of Property.   He is a trained chartered surveyor, a director of the Oxford Farming Conference and an Associate of the Royal Agricultural Societies (ARAgS).

Marion McCormick – Marion MacCormick has worked for ALDI (Scotland) since 1998.  Marion is currently responsible for growing and developing a comprehensive Scottish fresh meat range, capitalising on a comprehensive local network to develop a fresh meat and with quality, freshness and and the local customer at its heart.  Marion has also developed the strategy for marketing the Aldi brand in Scotland and building confidence in the brand.

John Kinnaird – John Kinnaird is a partner in 240 hect. family arable and beef farm. Former NFUS President from 2003-2007, representing Scotland’s farmers at a time of significant change.  Since then John has taken on other challenges, including committee member of AgriScot, local Director of NFU Mutual, Director of the Moredun Research Institute, Chair of the Scottish Government’s Scottish Appeals Procedure Panel, Chair of RSABI, Chaired a review of veterinary surveillance and Guardian member at Scotland Food and Drink. John is also the Vice president RHASS, Deputy Lieutenant – East Lothian and a Fellow of Royal Agricultural Societies.

Henry Graham – Henry Graham runs a 450-acre mixed farm in Midlothian in partnership with his wife, and is an experienced figure from the world of rural banking and agriculture.  He has held senior roles in the Royal Highland Agricultural Society, Quality Meat Scotland, Scottish Agricultural College and banking, specialising in agricultural business.  Henry is also a member of Forestry Commission Scotland’s National Committee and is a Trustee of Lantra (U.K.) acting as National Chair for Scotland.

Jim McLaren – Jim McLaren was appointed Chairman of QMS in April 2011. He runs a mixed arable and livestock business in Perthshire. The main arable enterprise is the production of spring malting barley, with the livestock side of the business including a pedigree Simmental herd. Jim was NFU Scotland President from 2007 to 2011

Lynn Mann – Lynn Mann is the co-owner of Supernature Oils. The company is based in Midlothian and is a farming enterprise (cereals) which has diversified into a food product. Supernature Oils specialise in cold pressed rapeseed oil, which is the fastest growing sector of the oils category in the UK.  Lynn is the driver behind the company and has recently been successful in getting listings in the UK and opening several export opportunities.  Lynn  is also an Ambassador for Women’s Enterprise Scotland and on the Board of Interface.

Sarah Allison – Sarah Allison comes from an agricultural background having grown up and worked on her family’s organic farm and food business.  She worked with farmers in England and Scotland before joining the Soil Association Scotland in 2017.  Sarah is a keen member of The Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs, recently retiring as Chair of SAYFC Agri and Rural Affairs Committee.


Jackie Brierton – Jackie Brierton is Enterprise Manager for GrowBiz – a community-based enterprise support organisation in rural Perthshire. She is also Chair of the Rural Perth and Kinross LEADER Local Action Group, and Founder and Vice-Chair of Women’s Enterprise Scotland CIC. She has more than 30 years’ experience in business, enterprise and policy development, including a period as adviser in the DTi’s Small Business Service between 2002 and 2006. She developed the UK Government’s first ‘Strategic Framework for Women’s Enterprise’ in 2003 and managed two centres of enterprise expertise for young people and women in the West Midlands between 2007 and 2010. Until recently, Jackie was Chair of Community Enterprise Ltd, and is passionate about the role of local enterprise development in the strengthening of the rural economy in Scotland.