Seminar to focus on farm business incubators

Sheep, Shetland. Crown copyright. Photographer - Barrie Williams.
Norette Ferns

An upcoming business seminar will explore the concept of farm business incubators as a route into farming for new entrants in Scotland.

The NEWBIE business seminar at AgriScot on 20 November will be a chance to hear about an international exchange to north France and how farm business incubators to help new entrants there.

The NEWBIE project is a pan-European initiative which is partnered and promoted in the UK by the James Hutton Institute. The goal of the NEWBIE network is to increase innovation, entrepreneurship, and resilience in the European farming sector by enabling new entrants to successfully establish sustainable farm businesses.

Adam Calo, the Project Coordinator for NEWBIE at the James Hutton Institute, explains more about his plans for AgriScot:

"A key strength of the NEWBIE project is that it is Europe wide. This is important, as the challenges faced by new entrants across Europe are largely similar in nature, so solutions may also be similar.”

"On 27th October we are sending a delegation from Scotland, including a member of NFUS, the Scottish Land Commission and the Landworkers Alliance to Northern France to find out about a French innovation, the ‘farm business incubator’.

"In this model, an entity like a charity or public trust holds farmland and lets it out at favourable rates to a cohort of new entrants. Farmers take advantage of the ability to share knowledge with their cohort, collaborate on agricultural practices, share equipment and tap into larger marketing streams than they would on their own. These incubator spaces create a buffer zone for farmers starting out so that they can hone their business model, gain credibility in the eyes of lenders or future business partners and take risks with a higher threshold for failure.

"I am very excited that we have the opportunity to hold a panel session at AgriScot to examine the potential for implementing a similar incubator model in Scotland.

"I would urge potential new entrants to come along on 20November to hear directly from participants in the international exchange visit to French incubator farms as they describe their experiences, share their opinions on the model and engage the audience with questions."

The Chairman of AgriScot, Robert Neill, also sought to specifically invite new entrants along to the farm business event:

"AgriScot is a unique event in the farming calendar, it is much more focussed on business than the traditional type of agricultural show and it also has broad appeal across all major sectors of the industry, from livestock to arable to dairy and more.

"We are delighted to welcome increasing numbers of visitors to AgriScot. Our visitor surveys show that many of our visitors represent large, long established farming businesses and we are delighted that the event proves attractive to them year on year.

"This year, I would like to personally invite those only just starting their farming journey and those yet to begin, to come along to AgriScot. We believe that the advice, innovation and policy discussion throughout the day is of value to everyone, however inexperienced or old and wise.

"We are delighted that, amongst the star attractions in our AgriScot 2019 seminar programme, we have been able to provide space to the NEWBIE project, specifically aimed at new entrants. I am sure that their fact-finding mission to examine the Farm Business Incubator model in France will make for fascinating and useful discussion."

Go to the James Hutton Institute website to find out more about the NEWBIE project.