Jim Mclaren

Scotland’s highest-profile farmer, NFU Scotland president Jim McLaren, has confirmed that he will quit dairy farming.

The news came only days after Mr McLaren told FWi that he was considering options including a plan to sell his dairy business.

Now though he has confirmed that he will begin selling off cows from his 70-year-old dairy business within weeks rather than months.

Mr McLaren, who milks 130 Holstein Friesians on his 230-acre tenanted farm near Crieff, claimed his “soul-searching” decision centred on his commitments to the union and his other businesses, which meant he was relying on 100% paid labour which was not currently sustainable.

He added: “On this scale of operation there would normally be a large element of family labour which makes a significant difference. Paying for it all means I’m losing money on the dairy enterprise, so as soon as I get an offer for the cows they’ll go and we’ll be finished.”

However, Mr McLaren explained that just last year he had looked at expanding the business to 300-400 head and building a new parlour and housing.

“That would have required an investment of between £1m and £1.5m. I have no doubt that this would have delivered a profitable business, based on the numbers which we calculated, but to invest that amount of the bank’s money on a farm from which I am usually absent, simply didn’t make sense,” he said.