scottish scene© Laurence Leech/ScottishViewpoint/Rex Shutterstock

Fifty new part-time starter farms are to be made available to new entrants in Scotland.

The Scottish government has announced more than 1,000ha of public land will be let out as part of its programme to support young people who want to get into farming.

Forestry Enterprise Scotland, Scottish Water, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, East Lothian and Highland Councils will all release land across Scotland this spring with the hope that this can accommodate 50 new farmers.

The policy is to offer small farms for a defined period with the intention that successful applicants will be able to build their business experience and capital in that period and then move on to a bigger unit at the end.

See also: New entrants priced out of starter farm market in Scotland

Rural affairs secretary Fergus Ewing said one of the primary barriers to attracting the next generation was the availability of land, so the Farming Opportunities for New Entrants (Fone) programme sought to develop the opportunities that were available.

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

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

Henry Graham, chairman of Fone, said: “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.”

Details of the farms that will be up for tender are expected to be published soon.

The individual organisations will advertise them in their normal way, but the details will also be available on the land opportunities page within the Fone section of the Scottish government website.