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HFRO History

This page has yet to be developed but could include extracts of documents such as the Introduction to the HFRO First Report 1954-58.


THE HILL FARMING RESEARCH ORGANISATION came into being as an independent grant-aided research institute on 1st April 1954, follow ing the decision in 1953 of the Secretary of State for Scotland, in consultation with the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Agricultural Research Council, to create a body for the specific purpose of promoting research into hill farming problems. This step marked a further organisational stage in a development that gathered impetus subsequent to the second world war. The investigation of the problems of production from hill and upland farms is not, of course, new, having been pursued by many people since the start of this century and even earlier. But apart from the work of the Animal Diseases Research Association and other workers in the field of animal health, there had only been sporadic investigations and no systematic approach to the technical problems involved. Accordingly, when the Balfour of Burleigh Committee reported in 1944 on hill sheep farming in Scotland, it recommended an expansion of research on a large scale, with the creation of a Hill Farming Research Station. In England and Wales, the De la Warr Committee, which had undertaken a corresponding investigation, expressed similar views.

Subsequently, the Agricultural Improvement Council for Scotland was asked to consider these recommendations and appointed a Committee to suggest how they should be implemented. Its considered opinion was that there should be three experimental hill farms in Scotland, one in the area of each of the Colleges of Agriculture, and that a Hill Farm Research Committee be appointed to consider a national research programme and arrange for the delineation of work appropriate to each farm. The Colleges would be responsible for day to day management of the farms, which would also provide facilities for visiting workers from Research Institutes, Colleges and Universities.

These recommendations were gradually put into effect. A Hill Farm Research Committee was appointed in 1945. Already the North of Scotland College of Agriculture had obtained, in 1943, the farm of Glensaugh in Kincardineshire and this became the first experimental hill farm. In 1946 the East of Scotland College of Agriculture secured a lease of Sourhope in the Cheviot Hills, and in 1949 the West of Scotland Agricultural College entered into occupation of Lephinmore on Loch Fyne in Argyll. Thus the chain of stations recommended in 1944 became complete.

The first Hill Farm Research Committee completed its term of office and in 1949 issued a report entitled "Hill Farm Research". It was succeeded by a second Committee, which in 1952 issued "Hill Farm Research—Second Report". A major recommendation of this second Committee was that the time had arrived for a further development by the setting up of a central organisation to control the three research farms in Scotland and by the appointment to it of scientific staff devoting their whole time to hill farming problems. On the acceptance of this proposal by the Secretary of State for Scotland, the Hill Farming Research Organisation was established and the three research farms of Glensaugh, Lephinmore and Sourhope transferred to it on its inception. The Organisation is required:
"to promote and implement a co-ordinated programme of work subject to the scientific oversight of the Agricultural Research Council on the problems arising from hill farming which require further research"

The control of the Organisation rests with a Board of Management, appointed by the Secretary of State for Scotland, of scientists, agriculturalists and hill farmers in Scotland, England and Wales. For the first three years the Organisation was fortunate to have Professor R. G. White as Chairman of the Board. Professor White was Chairman of the second Hill Farm Research Committee, and a member of its predecessor. Moreover, he has been an outstanding authority on all aspects of sheep farming for nearly half a century, and his extensive knowledge and experience were of particular benefit in guiding the Organisation in its early days. Amongst the other members of the Board for its initial period were the late Professor T. J. Mackie and Dr J. Russell Greig. Both had long been concerned with research into animal health, were members of the Balfour of Burleigh Committee and of each of the Hill Farm Research Committees, and played a valuable part in formulating research programmes.

Contact Alan Sibbald: alansibbald13@zzzgmail.com (who likes to call himself the Webmaster!) if you have any comments or suggestions for this page. Remember to remove the from my email address before sending.

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