A government-backed service designed to match cross-generational business partners in farming has had a successful first year in Scotland.
In October 2019, the Scottish government and NFU Scotland launched the Scottish Land Matching Service (SLMS) over concerns about an ageing farming population and a lack of opportunities for new entrants.
Ian Davidson, former head of agriculture policy at the Scottish government, acts as an independent matchmaker for prospective business partners.
The initiative offers a platform for people without succession arrangements to contact younger farmers and develop long-term collaborative arrangements such as partnerships, share farming or contract rearing.
During the past 12 months, the service has received 152 enquiries, with those looking for an opportunity numbering four times as many as those in a position to offer one.
Interest has involved all scales and types of enterprise, from market garden up to extensive sheep, cattle and arable operations.
Four successful matches have been made so far, including a joint venture and partnership agreement, and the team hopes this will build to many more successful matches in the future.
‘Clear need’ for service
Mr Davidson said: “There is a clear need and demand for this service. Its strength is that it provides free, independent advice and facilitation for anybody interested in ventures of all scales and types.
“We have many looking for opportunities and I would urge anybody thinking about taking a step back from farming or crofting to get in touch.”
NFUS president Andrew McCornick said it can be difficult for next generation farmers to gain a foothold in the industry, and for existing farmers and crofters to make the decision to relinquish some control.
He said: “The fact that successful matches are now being made will give people confidence in the service. I would urge anybody who feels they may have a potential opportunity to offer to get in touch with Ian to have a discussion.”
Mr Davidson can be contacted by calling 07741 902 648 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information, visit the SLMS website.