Wannabe farming entrants in Scotland will be given a boost from a new group tasked with “dramatically increasing” the number of Scottish starter farms.
The group, made up of representatives from the farming industry and former new entrants, has been asked to deliver “ambitious proposals” in the next six months to increase the number of starter farms on public land.
Scotland’s rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead launched the group.
“New entrants are the lifeblood of any industry, bringing fresh thinking, new ideas and an infectious enthusiasm. I want to make sure our farming industry reaps the benefits of a new generation, for now and for the future of the industry,” he said.
“To do this we need to create the right opportunities for the farmers of the future to get their start in the industry – and our innovative and unique approach of creating starter farms is one way of achieving this.
“I hope their proposals will help us to deliver a new generation of farmers, provide opportunities for young people, secure food production for years to come and boost our economy.”
Following a pilot in 2012, Scotland’s Forestry Commission launched a starter farm programme offering new entrants a 10-year lease on land within the National Forest Estate.
The programme currently has 10 starter farms, with the last one currently open to applicants. The 82ha holding, Woodfold, is near Gourdie, Dundee, and offers a mix of arable, permanent pasture and rough grazing, plus a farmhouse and agricultural buildings.
The Forestry Commission intends to appoint new tenants by the first week of July, ready for entry on 1 October.
More information on the starter farm initiative is at www.forestry.gov.uk/starterfarms.