In order to help the farmers of the future, the Scottish government is using publicly-owned land to create ‘starter farms’ to get new entrants to farming off to a start.

Some 11 starter farms have already been created on Scottish government land since 2012.

To maximise the use of publicly owned land to help the farmers of the future start their career in the industry Lochhead set up an expert group last year, which the Scottish government says is due to submit a formal report and recommendations this summer.

Its work has already resulted in the creation of even more opportunities for young farmers:

  • A 27ha five-year let at Lochnameal on Mull, comprising the land surrounding a former Forest Worker Holding which is suitable for grazing;
  • A 9.3ha five-year let at Ardentinny in Cowal on the National Forest Estate that is being brought back into agricultural use after many years;
  • Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Scottish Enterprise are working hard to identify land on their estates suitable for starter farm opportunities.

Lochhead said that ensuring the next generation of farmers can get a foothold on the farming ladder is absolutely crucial for the future of the industry that puts food on our tables.

“Our innovative approach of creating starter farms on public land has been a hugely successful way of doing this which is why I last year established an expert group to maximise the amount of publicly-owned land available to young farmers.

“Even though the group has yet to submit its final report, we are now beginning to reap the rewards of its endeavours with even more starter farms and opportunities for young farmers coming onto the market.”

Heading up the expert group is Henry Graham who said it has been obvious from the discussions we’ve had with new entrants and different organisations that access to land is the key requirement.

“Over the last few years, I’ve been involved in the selection panels for the new entrants on the starter farms on the National Forest Estate.”

Applications were invited for first Scottish government starter farm in June 2014, a 120ha unit, at Balrobert Farm near Inverness.

It was created from land deemed surplus to requirements following the construction of the Scottish Government’s state of the art Bull Stud at Knocknagael.

The site includes sound grazing and cropping land with various buildings.