Scottish new entrants are set to benefit from a £2m Scottish government fund during the next two years.

Speaking at the NFU Scotland conference and AGM in St Andrews on Tuesday (12 February), Scottish rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead announced plans for a new £2m fund to help new entrants.

“On behalf of new entrant farmers, I was disappointed when the European Commissioner confirmed it will now be 2015, before the new direct payments system begins,” he said.

“Hard-pressed new entrants, who have waited too long already, now have to wait yet another year before we start to get them on a level playing field.”

The fund was created as a result of this waiting period. “This is no substitute for direct support. But I hope it helps to offer at least some assistance until the new CAP arrives, which can’t happen soon enough for new entrants,” added Mr Lochhead.

“I want to encourage new blood into agriculture to ensure we can produce food for the nation – that remains what I see as its primary role.”

In addition, Mr Lochhead announced plans for two starter farms – a follow-on from Forestry Commission Scotland’s starter farm initiative, when two farms were allocated to new entrants.

The new starter farms on offer are at Rynaclach, near Aberfoyle and Kirkmichael Farm in Ayrshire.

“Based on the number and quality of applicants first-time round, I’m confident that we’ll soon be welcoming talented young people into those farms,” said Mr Lochhead.

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