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Journalists take home a positive view of Scottish agriculture from congress

SCOTLAND'S Agricultural industry has been shown off to over 200 international journalists who descended on Aberdeen last week.

The International Federation of Agricultural Journalists Congress, organised by the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists, saw 210 journalists from 37 countries discover what Scotland has to offer. With a theoretical global audience of 40 million, supporters of the industry were keen to get involved and sponsor the various events.

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The delegates visited a large number of locations, including Mackies of Scotland, Thainstone Exchange, Corskie Farm, Mains of Tonley, Strithisla Farms, Glenlivet Estate and Mackintosh of Glendaveny.

Nigel Miller, president of NFU Scotland gave a humorous and realistic view of the Scottish agricultural industry alongside chief executive of Scotland Food and Drink James Withers who described the pairing as "good cop, miserable cop".

Mr Miller explained the Macaulay system of land classification with a self-deprecating humour the delegates enjoyed.

"Class one is wonderful, it's what you have in Germany and France and you can grow anything - and you can clearly see there is no class one land in Scotland," he said. "This is spring barley country, you can see why we drink a lot of whisky!"

And he joked: "A lot of our land is actually pretty rubbish and you can see how amazing people we are that we manage to farm on this low-grade land."

'Eternally optimistic' Mr Withers added: "The world is changing fast and we will have to adapt, and if we get it right there is a fantastic opportunity for Scotland over the next few years."

The chairman of the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists, Jane Craigie, commented: "The Congress has exceeded all of our expectations.

"The farmers we visited did Scotland proud by explaining their business and quality outputs to the 210 delegates we hosted. Innovation, science and pioneering farm practices left the gathered journalists in no doubt about the progressive way in which they run their businesses.

"The congress was also a chance for us to share our fine produce from the north east of Scotland as well as our culture and heritage. Without doubt, IFAJ 2014 has put Scottish food, farming and tourism firmly on the world's map."

The delegates also heard from First Minister Alex Salmond who spoke during the Gala Dinner on Sunday evening.

For in-depth news and views on Scottish agriculture, see this Friday's issue of The Scottish Farmer or visit www.thescottishfarmer.co.uk

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