NFU appoints new Argyll & Islands regional chair

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has appointed John Dickson as the new chairman for the Argyll & the Islands region.  

A farmer in Bute, an island in the Firth of Clyde in Scotland, Dickson was appointed to the position at the regional annual general meeting (AGM) last Friday (15 January). 

“It is an honour to be elected to this post,” he said. “Having represented the region on tenant farming matters for some years, I felt it was the right time for a new challenge.”

Dickson has replaced mid-Argyll member John Semple in the position, who served in the role for the past five years.

Alongside his son, Ian, he manages 140 beef cows and 1,000 blackface and cross ewes at Scalpsie Farm on the Isle of Bute.

“An immediate priority will be to support those milking cows on Bute, Gigha and in Kintyre,” he continued. “The situation for dairy farmers is now critical and, given their importance to the wider rural economy, we need to look at how we can get more money into the pockets of the region’s dairymen.”

Prior to his new role, Dickson was a long-serving representative for Argyll & the Islands on the Union’s Tenant Farming Working Group. He was also a chairman of his local Bute branch. He believes that his past experience will help him in his new role.

“Having represented the region on tenancy matters, the current Land Reform Bill going through the Scottish Parliament could have a big impact and we need to make sure that we fully understand how the Bill may affect both land owners and tenant farmers.

“And given the hugely important contribution that hill farming in Argyll & the Islands makes to food production, communities, local economies, tourism, biodiversity and landscapes, we need to make sure that changes to support arrangements do not undermine the vulnerable sector.”

He highlighted that support arrangements for 2015 onwards were only just coming into effect and that the Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme’s Pillar 2 had been a lifeline for the industry.

“That, too, is going to change from 2017 onwards,” he concluded. “I want to make sure that the shift to the new Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) scheme does not impact on the region. While devising a new scheme will be challenging, it is such a fundamental part of the total support package for hill farming in Argyll & the Islands that we must make it work.”

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