Starter farm opportunites for next generation

Sheep in field
Norette Ferns

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead has announced that more opportunities for the next generation of farmers are to be created using public land.

Mr Lochhead last year set up an expert group to maximise the use of publically owned land to help farmers of the future to start their careers.

11 starter farms have already been created on Scottish Government land since 2012, including on the National Forest Estate which is managed on Scottish Ministers’ behalf by Forest Enterprise Scotland. And the work of the expert group has already resulted in the creation of further opportunities for young farmers.

These opportunities include:

  • A 27 hectare five year let at Lochnameal on Mull, comprising the land surrounding a former Forest Worker Holding which is suitable for grazing
  • A 9.3 hectare 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

In addition, young farmers are being encouraged to apply for a 10-year Limited Duration Tenancy currently being advertised for Den Farm on The Crown Estate’s Fochabers estate in Moray.

The Rural Affairs Secretary said:

"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."

Henry Graham, who heads up the expert group, said:

"Over the last few months, I’ve been very pleased with the progress made by the group on identifying what farmers of the future need in progressing their career by delivering proposals to maximise starter opportunities on publicly owned land. 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. It has been great to see the drive, initiative and enthusiasm of these young people but it was also very clear that even before they took over these part time starter units, they all had been taking small areas of land on seasonal lets, often quite far apart.

"There is still a little time before the report is completed but due to the cooperation of organisations such as Forest Enterprise Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Enterprise, Crown Estate, SNH and Scottish Water, a few of these smaller areas of opportunities will be advertised shortly.

"We don’t want to hold back this year’s opportunities because hopefully the growing season is not too far off and drier ground is round the corner."

Visit the Scottish Government website for more information.