Your name, and a little background about yourself (e.g where you live/grew-up, what you do for work/a little about the company/farm)
Ellie Louise Sinclair, I live and work on our family farm, Sinclair Agricultural & Recycling Services in Aberdeenshire. We are agricultural contractors and we also have a large haulage business. Originally we were dairy farmers, but in 2007 we sold all the cows and focused on agricultural contracting. We are now heavily involved in renewable energy. On the farm where the dairy was based, we have now made use of those buildings and surrounds by building our own Anaerobic Digester. Our farm land now solely supplies our own AD Plant with all the feedstock it requires, all coming from a 1 mile radius of the plant.
Within the family business, I am the Digestate Manager. We currently have a contract with Aberdeen City Council to supply feedstock, haulage and waste removal and disposal for their own Anaerobic Digester that they have built next to their brand new event complex (TECA)! My role is to organise and coordinate the removal and spreading of the liquid and fibre digestate from the TECA site.
How are you involved in agriculture?
I live and work on our family farm. I was once a keen member of Inverurie Young Farmers Club, I was very much into the social aspect of SAYFC. Throughout my time at young farmers, I won a couple of rosettes for the odd lemon drizzle and the odd batch of fudge, however I was more likely to be found prancing around a dancefloor with a drink in hand!
In your opinion, what are the biggest issue/s (and possible solutions – if any!) facing agriculture?
Attracting people into the industry is a nightmare. Agriculture is hard work and long hours, and there aren’t a lot of people who are willing to do that anymore. I completely stand by the fact that there should be a work / life balance, but there are times in agriculture where that has to take a step to the side. There are times throughout the year within agriculture that are unavoidably busy.
Another issue that agriculture is facing, like every other industry, is the rising costs. Fuel, fertiliser and retaining staff are a constant drain on the industry!
What advice would you give to your younger self when starting out in the industry?
Be CONFIDENT. There is very much an underlying gender issue, I don’t want to use the word ‘discrimination’, within agriculture. Women really do have to push hard to be heard and a lot of the time. I found, and still do in fact, there is a certain level of expectation that differs to a male counterpart. So I would definitely tell my younger self to not be embarrassed when the yard is full of men, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something and always make sure you take pride in what you do.
There are a lot of misconceptions as to what agriculture is or what you have to be or do to be classed as a farmer! You can still work within agriculture and not have ever driven a tractor!!
Also, being the ‘boss’s daughter’ or a ‘farmer’s daughter’ comes with a whole load of other complications! But we won’t go into that!! Ha ha!
Do you have any hobbies?
Yes! I love shooting. I try and get out shooting as much as I can, whether that be clay grounds, simulated game days or the real thing! I also love travelling. Of course, in the last few years it’s definitely just been around the UK, but that has been great. I’ve ventured to lots of new places throughout the country, and in fact next week I’ll have been in all four nations of the UK within about 9 days! Including the Republic of Ireland, as I’m being treated to a trip to Dublin for my birthday!
Why did you decide to join WiAS?
I initially decided to join WiAS as I wanted to be part of a group of likeminded people. I really feel like I’ve found my tribe within WiAS. I really wanted to meet other women across Scotland that were in a similar position to me!
What standout moments have there been for you since joining the group?
I have a few standout moments actually.
Firstly, how welcome I was made to feel within the group when I joined the committee. I was completely shocked when my name was announced to be part of the committee. I was incredibly nervous, but the girls put me straight at ease!
Secondly, I was given the opportunity to host a WiAS event in March of 2022! I love organising events, so I definitely took that in my stride. Alongside the help and contribution from the rest of the committee, the event was a great success! You can’t normally boast about beautiful sunshine and 17 degrees in the middle of March in Scotland, that’s for sure!
Lastly, what really stood out for me recently was the reception we received when we hosted a breakfast at the Royal Highland Show! The turnout for that event was fantastic and it was a hugely successful event that I am sure everyone that participated enjoyed thoroughly! It was great to see so many likeminded people in one room!
Why, in your opinion, is WiAS important?
WiAS is important as it provides a platform for women in agriculture to find a space where they can relate to a lot of their fellow members! It’s a space where stories can be shared, good or bad, experiences, tips and tricks of the trade!
What would you say to someone thinking of joining the group?
I would encourage anyone thinking about joining to do so! There is no pressure and to sign up is free! The group is for absolutely everyone! It is really a great way to network, as well as learn new skills with plenty of opportunities for farm visits across Scotland!
How can someone get involved in WiAS?
You can become involved by becoming a member through our website! From there, you will get invites to any upcoming events!
Our next event is the WiAS AGM on the 9th of November at the Royal Highland Showground. We will have a range of speakers, the opportunity to catch up with friends and meet new people, as well as lunch and refreshments!