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Panel Co-chairs

Nigel Miller - Co-chair


Nigel is a graduate of the Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies. He worked in the Highlands in a mixed farm animal practice before returning home to the family farm partnership in the Scottish Borders.


The present-day farming operation in Galawater carries 170 breeding cows and 800 breeding ewes; with a limited area of winter and spring barley. Two sons are now part of the partnership and through their work the business has diversified into wood processing.


Nigel is a past chair of FWAG Scotland and the NFUS Livestock Committee, and held the position of NFU Scotland President over the period of the last CAP Reform. Since the years spent with NFUS he has been a board member of SRUC and SAC Commercial and today is a board member of the Moredun Research Institute and Chair of Livestock Health Scotland.

NIGEL MILLER AGM 2014 (1).jpg

Mike Robinson - Co-chair

Mike is the Chief Executive of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS) based in Perth. He has worked in the Scottish charity and environment sector for the last 25 years, initially with RSPB as Head of Marketing, and later with the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh as Director of Development.


In a voluntary capacity Mike has held more than forty board/advisory roles, mostly for environment and human rights bodies, including as previous Chair of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS). He chaired the Scottish Parliament’s short life working group on annual targets, sits on the advisory groups for Air Passenger Duty & Scotrail, and the board of Transform Scotland. He is a member of the Arctic Strategy Forum & Perth City Development Board & is heavily involved in promoting climate change solutions. He holds two Honorary Fellowships (Scottish Environment Link and RCGS) and several awards for his services to the environment.

Mike Robinson

Panel members

Andrew Barbour


Andrew runs a livestock enterprise with his wife and family in Highland Perthshire. As well as managing livestock, he has experience in forestry, deer management and aquaculture. He was recently Acting chair of the Deer Working Group, which was set up to report to Government on the steps to be taken to achieve sustainable deer management in Scotland.

Andrew Barbour
Russell Brown


Russell farms in partnership with his wife Hilary and their two sons Robbie and Stephen. They farm mainly in NE Fife but have a farm in Perthshire. The partnership started in 1997 when they came to Inverdovat Farm on a contract farm arrangement with Mr & Mrs William Berry. That arrangement still continues to this day. They have slowly expanded and they now farm over a 1000 ha of arable land which is a mixture of owned (380ha) and the rest contract farm arrangements with a number of local land owners.


They grow 440 ha winter wheat, 60 ha rye for AD plant, 110 ha spring barley, 160 ha winter and spring oats, 150 ha potatoes as well as calabrese, vining peas and energy beet.


Russell has been the Chairman of the NFUS potato working group. At present he is the Chairman of the Scottish Potato Co-op, a group of 16 potato growers who have set up the co-op to market 70,000 tonnes of fresh potatoes.

Robert Fleming


Robert farms at Castle Sinniness and associated farms near Glenluce in South-West Scotland. The farming enterprise comprises 240 ha of grassland on the coast, stocked with suckler cows, 500-800 growing cattle, 300 finishing cattle and Roussin sheep. Robert utilises a paddock grazing system, with the focus on home grown forage. Robert sits on the Simplification Taskforce for Scottish Government for CAP reform. He was a former member of the Scottish Cattle Industry Group (SCIG) for QMS, was the host farmer for Agrii’s first Forage iFarm and is a 2015 Nuffield Scholar. The title of his Nuffield study was ‘Efficiency Gains Through Improved Beef Genetics’. Robert is married to Claire and and has two young children.

Sheila George


Sheila is the Food and Environment Policy Officer at WWF Scotland. Since completing her PhD on disease dynamics of bovine TB, she has worked in the NGO sector on landscape-scale conservation delivery, nature-based solutions, land-use and environment policy. 

Sheila George
Deborah J. Long

Deborah is Chief Officer at Scottish Environment LINK, the umbrella organisation for Scotland’s environmental charities. LINK aims to conserve, protect and restore wildlife and nature; to enable access to nature and landscapes, and to defend environmental rights. Prior to this, for 14 years she was director of Plantlife in Scotland, a small NGO conserving native plants, fungi and habitats. She also ran a Europe-wide project on sustainable food growing.


As a palaeo-ecologist, her outlook is based in a detailed understanding of ecological relationships that have developed over millennia and are deeply influenced by human activities.  With 16 years of experience in ecosystem and habitat conservation, with a focus on ecosystem health and functioning as well as 16 years of experience in policy making in the environment sector, she hopes to be able to contribute to the panel by providing perspectives based on long-term temporal and large-scale spatial scales.

Dave Reay


Dave is Executive Director at the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, Professor of Carbon Management at the University of Edinburgh and Director of Policy at ClimateXChange. Dave has authored over 100 articles and 5 books on climate change, including Climate-Smart Food, and is an advisor for the Scottish Government on rural policy and climate change. His latest project involves managing his farm on the West Coast of Scotland to sequester a lifetime's carbon emissions.  

Prof Dave Reay
Pete Ritchie
Pete Ritchie


Pete Ritchie is Executive Director of Nourish Scotland, which he co-founded in 2013. He also runs Whitmuir Organics with his wife and business partner Heather Anderson, and is a trustee of the Food Ethics Council. Pete is a first-generation farmer and was previously founder and director of Scottish Human Services.

Geoff Simm


Professor Simm is Director of the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security at the University of Edinburgh. This is one of five Global Academies that aim to galvanize interdisciplinary teaching, research and translation on key global challenges.


The agrifood academy provides a suite of BSc and MSc programmes to equip graduates to contribute to global food and nutritional security and wider Sustainable Development Goals. Geoff’s research is in sustainable farm animal breeding and sustainable agri-food systems. He is a Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Societies and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology.

Sarah Skerratt


Sarah is Director of Programmes at the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Previously she was Professor of Rural Society and Policy Director of Policy Engagement at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC). For 30+ years, Sarah has researched rural community resilience, empowerment and disempowerment; poverty; leadership; and broadband. She has recently focused on rural mental health, working with the national charity Support in Mind Scotland. 


Through her research, Sarah aims to enhance rural and national policy, and make a difference in rural communities. She works with the Scottish Government on numerous task forces, Scottish Parliament, universities, private, public and third sectors, communities and development agencies in Scotland as well as internationally. Sarah recently completed a two-year secondment with Audit Scotland, bringing a “rural lens” to their work, and is now retained as their rural adviser, having established their Islands Forum in 2017. 


Sarah is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) and a Scientific Director of the Scottish Consortium of Rural Research (SCRR). 

John Smith


John and his wife Ruth run a herd of pedigree Holsteins, rearing replacements and some dairy beef on a predominantly grass-based system on the Kintyre peninsula.


John is a past chair of the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs. More recently he spent 5 years as chair of NFUS’ Legal and Technical committee and 2 years as NFUS’ Milk Committee chair.

John Smith
Steven Thomson


Steven is a Senior Agricultural Economist with over 25 years of experience in agricultural and rural policy analysis and has been involved in assessing agricultural change, particularly in reference to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), for a number of years. 


Steven’s ongoing work is heavily focused on considering how the UK’s withdrawal from the EU will impact on Scottish agriculture and wider rural society. He has taken a proactive role in assessing the challenges and opportunities that Brexit may bring – delivering stakeholder seminars, farmer-focused events, and research on the topic.


In 2018 Steven lead an extensive review of the use of non-UK seasonal labour in the Scottish farming sector - providing the first quantification of the extent of use of seasonal overseas workers to the Scottish Government. Work for the Scottish Government on the Socio-Economic and Biodiversity impacts of grouse has also recently been finished and a three year investigation of the wider Rural Business base is ongoing for Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Government where linkages to the land-based sector are one of the topics being investigated.


Steven supported Brian Pack’s independent review of red-tape in farming and rural land management in Scotland. He has also been involved in projects relating to land reform, including research into the diversity of land ownership, agricultural tenure and seasonal grazing lets, the economic impact of Scottish Estates and the sustainable management of wild deer in Scotland



Keesje Avis was the clerk of the Farming 1.5 Inquiry, employed by Nourish Scotland.

Ruth Taylor supported the Inquiry on behalf of NFU Scotland.

Ruth Taylor
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