22 June 1998
Agriculture being turned on its head,
says top UK seedsman

JOHNNY WATSON, recently voted the UKs top agricultural seedsman, said farmers have had little input in marketing their own products in the past – but thats all about to change.

Mr Watson, of East Lothian, who is profiled in The Scotsman today, said farmers can no longer operate in isolation from the consumer. Like any other business, they must learn to focus on the customers needs, either individually or through trade organisations.

His company, John Watson Seeds, currently has a turnover of £1.3 million, predominantly in forage seeds, but also cereals, oilseed rape and other crops. It has 16 agents and four distributor companies serving more than 3,000 customers in Scotland, the north of England and Wales.

Watson adopts a market-oriented approach to his business and advises farmers to adopt the same.

“We can do things to influence consumer demand, but its no longer acceptable simply to produce food without taking into account what the market wants.”

Anticipated reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy will force changes in the industry. That means farmers will have to be more pragmatic in looking at what they produce and how they go about producing it, he says.

  • The Scotsman 22/06/98 page 16