Thirty-five young farmers and new entrants are to share in a £1.8m payout in the latest round of grant allocations under the Scottish government’s programme of support for new businesses.
Funded jointly with the EU, there are two such schemes – Young Farmer Start-up Grants and New Entrant Start-up Grants, both of which provide funds for things like buying land, equipment and livestock, or investing in infrastructure.
The Young Farmer scheme is for farmers younger than 41 who are setting up as the head of a holding for the first time, with grants of about £58,000 available (depending on the exchange rate).
The New Entrant scheme is for those who have been involved in an agricultural business for less than a year, with grants of about £12,500 available.
In both cases, preference is given to applicants whose businesses are not succession cases.
“It is crucial that there is a steady flow of young and new entrants into farming – not only to promote competition and encourage productivity, but also to ensure the sector remains sustainable in the long term,” said Scotland’s rural secretary, Fergus Ewing.
“With the average age of Scottish farmers currently sitting at 58, it is vital we provide support for entrepreneurs in the critical early stages.”
This is the second round of funding for both schemes since the start of the Scottish Rural Development Programme for 2014-2020.
So far more than £7m has been awarded to help create and develop about 140 new farming businesses across Scotland.
Round three of the scheme is currently open, with a closing date of 31 October.
But with just £8m available in the current budget allocation, and with the schemes proving popular, the Scottish government is urgently looking for ways to provide additional funding.