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Smart Farms Forum: evaluation of Business Clubs


The Smart Farms project aimed to address relevant support issues relating to profitability and standards of practise in Scotland’s farming industry. The Business Clubs aimed to work with businesses to help improve their performance, increase collaboration and transfer best practice activities. The evaluation aimed to: assess what impact the project had; identify if the Business Clubs were the correct forum; identify any best practice examples from alternative business clubs; and assess the level of future interest from the farming community.


The methodology consisted of: inception and set up; a consultation and fieldwork programme; an impact analysis; a learning workshop; and report writing.


Finds that the Business Clubs have had a low impact in improving the business skills of the participating farmers, as was expected by the partners at the outset. Suggests that it is too early to see major impacts from the project, but that the work already undertaken will secure impacts in the longer term. Concludes that the Smart Farm Business Clubs are the correct forum to help farmers improve their business skills and that 92% of farmers interviewed wished the clubs to continue.


Recommends that: a marketing campaign is undertaken to improve the level of awareness of Business Clubs; Scottish Enterprise and LECs should take the lead in the clubs’ management, facilitation and running; some form of sectoral split will be required; and members’ financial contribution should increase to a level where the Club is sustainable without public sector support. Recommends that the Business Clubs should be rolled out to rest of Scotland. Finds there is a need to: resolve monitoring of the Business Clubs; integrate the Smart Farm Business Clubs with other forms of assistance; and resolve issues of linkages to other forms of farming support programmes. Concludes that the Business Clubs should be developed to allow for local flexibility.

Author EKOS Limited
Published Year 2009
Report Type Evaluation
  • Enterprise
    Sector-level support
  • Sectors
    Food and drink