The Latest news from Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce -

Keep up to date with the latest news and stories from across Dumfries & Galloway.


Farm rents rise three per cent

The average cost of renting agricultural land has risen three per cent since last year, new figures show.

Scotland's Chief Statistician today released the latest figures on Tenanted Agricultural Land in Scotland.

Average rent for land was £39 per hectare in 2014/15 compared to £38 per hectare the previous year. The increase was seen in both the poorer-quality Less Favoured Area (LFA) land, which was up three per cent from £25 to £26 per hectare, and in the better quality land which rose by five per cent from £124 to £130 per hectare.

Since most rents are reviewed only every three years, this implies that, where there have been increases, they have been, on average, well above three per cent. Rent increases have been above inflation since 2008.

Rents were highest in Fife and the Lothians, with three quarters paying over £75 per hectare. They were lowest in Shetland and Na h-Eileanan Siar, where half of rents were less than £3 per hectare.

Analysis of the results of the Farm Accounts Survey suggest that there was no clear link between profitability and whether a farm is wholly owned or wholly rented.

The figures released today were produced by independent statistical staff, free from any political interference, in accordance with professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

Economy Grows 0.2%

Scottish GDP grew by 0.2% during the fourth quarter of 2015, according to statistics announced today by Scotland’s Chief Statistician.

The latest Gross Domestic Product release, covering the period October to December 2015, shows that total output in the economy grew by 0.2% compared to the previous quarter.

On an annual basis, compared to the fourth quarter of 2014, GDP grew by 0.9%.Calendar year growth for 2015, i.e. comparison of the four quarters of 2015 with the four quarters of 2014, was 1.9%.

The services sector, which accounts for nearly three quarters of the economy, grew by 0.3% during the latest period, the production sector contracted by 0.1%, and construction output expanded by 0.1%.

First national LFASS payments authorised

The first nationally-funded farm support payments have now been authorised, Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead has announced.

The Scottish Government has earmarked more than £250 million from national funds to provide cash support while Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) claims are being processed.

In an update today, Mr Lochhead confirmed:

  • National Less Favoured Area Support Scheme (LFASS) payments have now started, meaning almost 11,500 farming businesses in Scotland’s most remote and rural areas will receive around £55 million in the coming weeks
  • More than 63 per cent of farmers and crofters have now had a first instalment of their EU CAP subsidy worth about 80 per cent of their basic and greening claim
  • The Scottish Government is on track to provide in April up to £200 million of nationally-funded payments to any eligible farmer or crofter who has not received an EU Basic Payment instalment by the end of March. Letters will be going out shortly with more information about the national support that will be paid and the small print legal terms and conditions the Scottish Government needs to provide.
  • The Single Application Form (SAF) online application window opened on March 15 as scheduled, and early feedback about system performance has so far been positive
  • Scotland’s new £45 million Beef Efficiency Scheme is set to open for applications in April
  • More than 100 young farmers and new entrants have been allocated start-up grants from the Scottish Rural Development Programme, worth a total of more than £5 million.

The Cabinet Secretary said:

"We are continuing to do all we can to make support payments to Scottish farmers and crofters as quickly as possible. Around 63 per cent of CAP claimants have now had a first instalment of EU support that is worth about 80 per cent of their basic and greening claim.

“We know that, given the tough market conditions and extreme weather that affected many in recent months, some farmers are facing cash flow issues which is why the Scottish Government is using national funds to ensure farmers and crofters will receive support totalling hundreds of millions of pounds over the coming weeks.

“We have begun authorising nationally-funded LFASS payments and will shortly write to farmers and crofters who’ve not yet received a basic and greening first instalment with more information about how national support will be paid, and the small print legal terms and conditions that we need to provide.

“I fully accept that the IT system is not enabling us to process claims as quickly as we want. We are continually working to improve that, and this year’s SAF window has opened as planned with positive feedback so far.”

Commenting specifically on the launch of the £45 million Beef Efficiency Scheme, Mr Lochhead said:

“Beef is the powerhouse of Scottish agriculture, and this is a massive investment that has the potential to revolutionise the sector. Collecting and monitoring key information about cattle, including genetic data, will enable farmers to implement changes to improve the management and quality of their herd.

“In return, producers will receive financial support equivalent to about £32 per calf and, more importantly, be ideally placed to reap huge rewards in the longer term – namely, improving the quality, efficiency and sustainability of Scotland’s beef herd, leading to higher profits and lower greenhouse gases.

“I urge all eligible breeders to apply for this unprecedented support when the scheme opens in April as I am keen to maximise the number of farmers who will benefit. We will be closely monitoring the number of applications later in the year to see if further action is needed to increase participation.”

Jim McLaren, Chairman of Quality Meat Scotland who also chaired the Beef 2020 industry working group, said:

“The scheme was developed on the back of the last beef price downturn, and as prices and margins again come under pressure, the BES is a great opportunity to examine aspects of our businesses which can be trickier to get a handle on. This is a unique chance for Scottish Beef calf producers to improve their business efficiency with the aid of some very welcome financial support from Scottish Government. I urge producers to look at the scheme from that perspective and utilise the crucial extra management information which will be available to them as participants.”

Chairman of NFU Scotland’s Livestock Committee, Charlie Adam, said:

“We are delighted that £45 million has been committed towards further improving the efficiency of the Scottish beef herd. As an industry, we have never stood still and I hope this scheme sets some strong foundations for us to keep getting better. We welcome Scottish Government’s commitment to fully explain the terms and conditions for the scheme before the application window opens in April. Over the next few weeks the industry is looking forward to finding out all the detail and obligations on the scheme and how it has the potential to transform their beef businesses.”

DGBusiness Awards - Winners Announced

A record breaking 323 of the region’s top business people celebrated the success of businesses from all over the region at a glittering dinner at Easterbrook Hall.  Hosted by DGChamber Business Development Manager and local broadcaster Lee Medd, the decisions of the judges on the 38 finalists drawn from a list of over 90 nominations were announced.

Brian Rennie President of the Chamber of Commerce that organised the Awards said “We were delighted both with the quality and quantity of businesses that came forward for this, our third Business Awards.  The judges had a tough time deciding each category so just to be shortlisted was a true achievement.”

Dumfries & Galloway College were the principal sponsor of the awards and College Principal Carol Turnbull stated that “The creativity, talent, business skills, courage and commitment of these entrepreneurs is crucial to the economic success of the Region and it is fitting that we take some time out to celebrate their achievements.  I was surprised and pleased to see such a broad diversity and range of businesses represented and thought the standard and calibre of nominees was very impressive.  Entrepreneurs such as these, together with a continued investment in the vocational skills education and training of our current and future workforce are vital for our future prosperity and growth.”

Dumfries based Raymond Boyd, Managing Director the Boyd Group was named the prestigious Entrepreneur of the Year. Raymond started the business on his own in 1995 and aims to double his workforce this year as well as open a new 6,000 square foot head office.

Hamish “Half-Goat” Odinson was named as Young Entrepreneur. Hamish while bedbound from ongoing back surgery used the time to teach himself a traditional craft and turn his passion for leatherwork into a business. The judges noted that never have they met someone who lives and embodies the business in the way Hamish does.

Ashleigh Construction took the Outstanding Performing Business with over 25 employees. It has offices in Dumfries and Prestwick, and employs over 120 members of staff and operatives. This number is bolstered by a further 150+ through its Approved Supply Chain operations. It has successfully delivered a wide and diverse range of projects across the construction market, featuring many construction techniques and specialist features.

Sparklers Private Nursery was recognised for its Excellence in Customer Service, impressing the judges with the way that they were always seeking to do better, developing individual training for staff and using constant feedback to improve the service delivered.

The Family Business Award went to Dumfries based Jardine Funeral Directors, who have served the community in their time of need, for some 6 generations since 1862. It was a double celebration for the Jardine family as Roucan Loch Crematorium, managed by Ruth Jardine picked up the award for Outstanding Business with Under 25 Employees.

The Rural Business Award went to Sue MacNiven. Sue is the only female fly fishing instructor in the UK to hold advanced certificates for both salmon and trout fly fishing tuition. She brings people to Scotland for residential and daily workshops from as far away as Australia.  Coupled with her bed and breakfast business the judges felt this was a truly unique business offering.

The Third Sector was represented in the Outstanding Social Enterprise category recognising that these are businesses which must be sustainable while at the same time having a clear social purpose.   This was a very competitive category but the judges agreed that Dalbeattie Community Initiative, with its 14 ongoing projects & events all centred on the social and economic development of the community.

Gary Mitchell from West Galdenoch Farm has built a classroom to provide training and to allow primary schools visits to his farm. His passion to give local young people the opportunity to experience working on a dairy farm earned him the title of Champion in Developing the Young Workforce.

The Most Promising Business category was open to businesses set up within the last three years.  With a third of all the applications in this category this provided the judges with some of their greatest challenges. At the end of the day they decided to give the award to a business that is unique, has a specialist marketplace and is doing business on a worldwide scale. United Bricks design and print on LEGO components, they specialise in military history, with around 70% of sales being in continental Europe, Asia, and North America. This small business is helping to put Dumfries and Galloway on the map.

The full list of winners is:-

Outstanding Performing Business (more than 25 employees)

Sponsored by Gates Power Transmission


Ashleigh Construction

Outstanding Performing Business (less than 25 employees)

Sponsored by Gates Power Transmission


Roucan Loch Crematorium


Champion in Developing the Young Workforce

Sponsored by DG Employment Total Access Point


Gary Mitchell, West Galdenoch Farm


Excellence in Customer Service

Sponsored by Dumfries & Galloway College


Sparklers Private Nursery

Family Business Award

Sponsored by Armstrong Watson


Jardine Funeral Directors

Rural Enterprise Award

Sponsored by Scottish Power Energy Networks


Damsel Fly Fishing

Most Promising New Business

Sponsored by Business Gateway


United Bricks

Outstanding Social Enterprise

Sponsored by Third Sector Dumfries & Galloway


Dalbeattie Community Initiative

Young Entrepreneur Award

Sponsored by UWS


Hamish “Half-Goat” Odinson

Entrepreneur of the Year

Sponsored by Easterbrook Hall


Raymond Boyd

DGBusiness Awards

The DGBusiness Awards 2016 sponsorted by Dumfries & Galloway College takes place, Friday April 29th at Easterbrook Hall.

Over 300 attendees will witness the 10 awards being handed out.

Who will win the Entrepreneur if the Year? Who is the outstanding business with over 25 employees? and Who are the Family Business of the Year?

All these questions and so many more will be answered.


The evening begins with a drinks reception from 6.30pm, after that there will be a 3 course meal and then the awards ceremony itself.

When the awards have been handed out, there's plenty of time to meet mingle and celebrate as the bar remains open until midnight. Alternatively why not move next door to Neuros, which is open until open until 1am.