Scottish new entrants could get their own ‘starter farms’

New farmers in Scotland could be given a leg up into the industry, with more than 1,000ha of public land set to be made available to those entering the industry for the first time.

Under the plans the Scottish Government will set up around 50 new ‘starter farms’ to encourage more young people to start their own farming enterprises.

The land is currently owned by several organisations, including Scottish Water, Forestry Enterprise Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, East Lothian and Highland Councils and is expected to be released this spring.

New opportunities

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “One of the primary barriers to attracting new entrants to farming is the availability of land.

“The release of land is the direct result of the work of the ‘Farming Opportunities for New Entrants’ group, which I launched in December 2016 with the specific remit of developing farming opportunities for new entrants.

“With the average age of Scottish farmers at 58 years of age, attracting new entrants to farming is vital for the long-term sustainability of the industry.

“New entrants drive innovation and best practice, improve efficiencies and contribute towards the overall economic vitality of the sector.”

Building on other programmes

Henry Graham, chairman of Farming Opportunities for New Entrants, commented on the programme: “It has been good working with these different organisations to illustrate the importance of bringing new entrants into the sector and for these organisations to react in such a positive manner.

“This recent area of land to be released is in addition to the 1,400ha that have been let to 35 new entrants on the National Forest Estate since the beginning of the Starter Farm Programme.”