Supporting Scotland’s small producers

Sophie Law

Small scale producers are set to have access to a range of new support designed to create more localised supply chains and cut food miles.

The Scottish Government’s Small Producers Pilot Fund aims to help individual small producers increase their resilience and enhance their contribution to the rural economy.

Planned to open later this year, the Pilot Fund will improve access to training, skills, further processing, and food supply chains – helping producers enhance their value and become more sustainable.

In partnership with the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society (SAOS) and agriculture, small holding and food industry stakeholders, the government has set up an industry-led steering group to co-design the Pilot Fund and their first meeting is on the 28th March 2023.

Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon announced the pilot fund steering group at the Rare Breeds Survival Trust’s 50th anniversary conference in Fife. Ms Gougeon said:

“We are committed to ensuring accessible support for small producers and small businesses, including small scale food production and processing.

“Working in partnership with the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society (SAOS), agricultural, small holding and food industry stakeholders, the Steering Group will design a flexible funding approach that supports local food supply chains, improves access to the right training opportunities, and helps link together small producers into existing abattoirs.

“The Small Producers Pilot Fund will replace the Small Farms Grants Scheme, and aims to increase the proportion of food grown and processed by small farms and small holders, and consumed locally by their local community, including those affected by the cost of living crisis.”

SAOS Business Development Manager Helen Glass commented:

“The pilot will assist in creating more-localised food supply chains, enhancing producer value and cutting food miles. Additionally, it will provide the opportunity to support individual small producers in developing their skills and will be key to supporting these producers in enhancing the vital contribution they already make to the rural economy.”

Vice President Scotland, Rare Breeds Survival Trust Martin Beard said:

“Small scale producers farming with our hardy, low input native breeds are crucial to a future for Scottish farming where high quality, high welfare food production goes hand in hand with environmental sustainability.

“This initiative from Government, combined with action on challenges such as the scarcity of local abattoirs, can help unlock the potential of small scale producers for Scotland’s communities, economy and environment.”