Young farmers in Scotland who are looking to start a career in agriculture are to be awarded government grants worth £4.2m in total.
Scottish rural affairs secretary Fergus Ewing said the latest award would see 81 successful applicants receive a share of the funding, which will help to create and develop their businesses.
The funding is part of the New Entrant Start-Up Grant (NESUG) and Young Farmer Start-Up Grant schemes (YFSUG), which will allow 23 NESUG and 58 YFSUGs applications to be approved
See also: 9 ways to get into farming
Announcing the funding, Mr Ewing said: “It’s vital to the sustainability of agriculture in Scotland that we do everything in our power to encourage new entrants to farming.
“With the average age of Scottish farmers currently close to 60, there is of course an emphasis on encouraging young people into farming.
“But new entrants of any age are welcome, and can help to drive innovation and improve best practice across the industry, while contributing to the economic vitality of the sector.”
The funding announcement brings the total funding from EU and Scottish government to more than £13.8m, supporting the development and creation of almost 256 new farms across Scotland.
Welsh government grants
Meanwhile, in Wales, Plaid Cymru (Party of Wales) has warned that outward migration of young people is “sapping life from Welsh communities”.
The party said over the past decade, the four local authorities in the West – Ynys Mon, Gwynedd, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire – had seen 117,000 young people aged 15-29 leave either to other parts of Wales or the UK.
Plaid Cymru AM for mid- and west Wales, Simon Thomas, urged new entrants in Wales to apply for their share of a £6m new Welsh government grant scheme to help young farmers in Wales get on their feet.
“Currently the average age of farmers in Wales is over 60 – just 3% are under 35,” said Mr Thomas. “To secure the future of the industry in the teeth of the challenge of Brexit, more young entrants are needed.”
The grant will provide £40,000 to 150 farmers as part of a Young People into Agriculture Scheme. Applicants must be younger than 40 on 1 April and must be looking to establish a new business or develop an existing one.