THE importance of crofters in Scottish agriculture will be underlined at the Black Isle Show today (Thur) when Minister for Environment Stewart Stevenson pays a visit.
The Highlands’ biggest agricultural event got under way at Muir of Ord’s Mannsfield Showground yesterday in dull but mostly dry weather.
Organisers will be hoping that today's rain clears up for the main day of the show, which this year celebrates its 175th anniversary.
Show-goers from all over the Highlands and further afield will join traders, exhibitors and serious stockmen and women for the agricultural extravaganza.
Today’s entertainment will feature main ring events including a police dog display and the Big Pete Monster Truck Team, a grand livestock parade of winners, trade stands, food and craft producers, flower show, sheep shearing and funfair.
Environment Minister Stewart Stevenson will visit the show to highlight the important role crofters play in Scottish agriculture.
Mr Stevenson will launch the Horticultural Handbook for Crofters, a practical guide from the Scottish Crofting Federation. The handbook is written with input from experienced crofters, which will help with the challenges of growing food in crofting areas.
The Minister will also tour the livestock on display, including home-bred crofters’ cattle, accompanied by Black Isle Farmers’ Society committee member George Tait from Strathpeffer.
Mr Stevenson said: "The Black Isle Show is a fantastic gathering of the Ross-shire and Inverness-shire agricultural community. The Scottish Government is committed to supporting our crofters, including providing funding support for the new Horticultural Handbook."
Show secretary and treasurer Rod Mackenzie said stock entries were at their highest level for at least six years.
There are around 1,000 horse entries while the numbers for cattle (350), sheep (1,100), fur and feather (400) and goats (60) are all similarly healthy.
Local produce from around the Highlands will be showcased in the prupose-built food hall.
"We built it five years ago and we have no problem filling it with food companies from within a 100-mile radius," said Mr Mackenzie. "We could do with twice the space to satisfy the demand."
The show will also feature some 300 trade stands.