Increase in new entrants to crofting welcomed

Croft on the isle of Skye - pic by kodachrome25 via canva
Alan Robertson

Figures released this week by the Crofting Commission show a significant increase in new entrants to crofting; with over 500 joining the sector in the year to March 2023.

This marks a five-year high and highlights the growing interest in this unique land tenure system, particularly among younger generations with new entrants span all crofting counties across Scotland.

Key findings:

  • 510 new entrants to crofting in 2022/23.
  • 45% of new entrants are women.
  • 29% of new entrants are aged under 41.

Minister for Energy and the Environment, Gillian Martin MSP, praised the latest figures from the Crofting Commission, commenting:

“I am delighted to see, yet again, that the Crofting Commission is reporting a healthy number of new entrants into crofting. Attracting and providing opportunities for new crofters is critical to its future. It is pleasing to note that 46% of new entrants are women and 29% are aged under 41.” 

“It is encouraging to see such a healthy number of new people embracing crofting. This is testament to the vibrancy and potential of this sector, and I am particularly pleased to see more women and young people getting involved. The Scottish Government is committed to supporting crofting and its role in rural communities. We will continue to work closely with the Crofting Commission to create opportunities for new entrants.”

Malcolm Matheson, Convenor of the Crofting Commission, added:

“These figures are not just encouraging, they represent a shot in the arm for rural communities facing depopulation challenges. It’s clear that crofting continues to offer exciting opportunities for people seeking a rewarding and sustainable lifestyle.”

The Crofting Commission regulates over 21,000 crofts across Scotland, supporting new entrants and oversees the creation of new crofts, including recent woodland crofts on the Isle of Mull.

Ms Martin concluded:

“I look forward to visiting new crofters and witnessing firsthand how crofting contributes to the economic and social fabric of the Highlands and Islands.”

The commission advises anyone interested in being a crofter should first contact the Scottish land matching service, an independent body that offers those looking to become farmers, small- holders or crofters an opportunity to formally register their interest.

The 2023 Crofting Census is currently open. This mechanism is essential in shaping the future of crofting. Submit response online before 8th April here