A FARMER from near Gifford has been announced as the new chairman for NFU Scotland’s Lothian and Borders region.

Kelvin Pate, who farms at Aikeyside, south-west of the village, with his wife Wendy and their three sons, has been an officeholder in the union for more than a decade, including a spell as chairman of his local East Lothian branch.

He has previously represented the region on the livestock and legal and technical committees, and chaired the livestock committee from 2007 to 2009.

Aikeyside is a 360-acre unit, part of which is classified ‘less favoured area’, and is run along with 200 acres of grass rented on an annual basis.

He has 800 ewes and 45 suckler cows producing Angus and Charolais calves.

The farm grows 800 bales of hay/silage and 40 acres of spring barley, all of which is under sown with a catch crop of Italian rye grass.

Kelvin said: “With Brexit looming, Scottish and UK agriculture is facing its biggest challenge since joining the EEC in 1973.

“There are a lot of uncertainties and I am looking forward to being part of what NFU Scotland does best – informing the decision-makers and fighting the corner of all farming sectors to get the best possible result for Scottish agriculture going forward.

“Securing the right trade deal is vital. We cannot farm if we have nowhere to sell our produce and that loss of production would have far-reaching ramifications, not just for the economy but the countryside as well.

“Active farming does far more for the environment than farmers ever get credit for.”

Selkirk branch member Sion Williams remains regional vice-chairman, with well-known pig producer Robin Traquair filling the other vice-chairman’s role vacated by Kelvin.