Scottish agriculture covers 75% of the land in Scotland, and employs approximately 65,000 people. It is a growing, prosperous industry with one major problem being a lack of new blood. Many people have a passion to farm but often struggle to enter the industry due to numerous barriers. The Scottish Government have identified finance as a major barrier to entry for new entrants. For this reason there is a new entrant package in the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) to help overcome the hurdle and attract talented people to agriculture. Three dedicated funding schemes have been created with strict eligibility guidelines, these have a ceiling for grants being awarded, the grants are applied for competitively by means of an application form and supporting evidence such as business plans and cash flow projections. In depth information can be found at www.ruralpayments.org.
The three grants are summarised as follows,
Young Farmers Start Up Grant
To be eligible you must apply within 18 months of starting an agricultural business for the first time, or taking over an existing business. You must be between 16 years old and under 41 years old at application and have a minimum of three hectares of land. You should have a suitable agricultural qualification (at least NVQ Level2) or demonstrate at least five years practical experience. If you are in a partnership, you must prove the new entrant holds at least 25% capital of the business and a legal agreement should show that the new entrant has control of the business with day to day management.
Grant funding available is up to €70,000. This can be used for items aiding the cost of starting a business e.g. land, livestock, etc.
New Entrants Start Up Grant
You must have started business in the 12 months prior to submitting an application and be over 16 years of age to be eligible. A minimum of three hectares of land is required. If you are in a partnership you must prove the new entrant holds at least 25% of the capital of the business, and a legal agreement should show that the new entrant has control of the business with day to day management.
Grant funding available is up to €15,000. This can be used for items aiding the cost of starting a business e.g. land, livestock, etc.
New Entrants Capital Grant
To be eligible you must have set up as head of the holding no more than five years before application and submitted a Single Application Form on the year of application. The new entrant should have adequate occupational skills and competence. If in a partnership you must prove the new entrant holds at least 25% capital of the business and a legal agreement should show that the new entrant is the decision maker of the business. The new entrant must have the power to sign cheques and make payments.
Grant funding available is up to £25,000 for individuals (80% for LFA, 60% non LFA under 41 years old or 60% for LFA and 40% non LFA if over 41 years old) or €125,000 for groups (90% for LFA, 80% non LFA under 41 years old or 80% for LFA and 60% non LFA if over 41 years old). This can be used for items to help develop the business e.g. buildings, hard standings, slurry stores, drainage, electrical equipment, etc.
To apply for the above schemes an application form is required, along with a business plan demonstrating how the grant funding would be utilised and how the support would benefit the business. The business plan should also encompass the current financial position of the business and projected cash flow, how any additional finance will be sourced, key milestones should be illustrated with goals and timings and a training plan should be designed. To apply for the scheme evidence must be submitted depending on the grant being sought after e.g. proof of age, qualifications, partnership agreement, tenancy agreement, testimonies, etc.
The three grants are competitive and are scored by RPID Agricultural Officers. Genuine new entrants carry a preference to succession projects. Other assessment criteria include, the make up of the business, how additional finance is obtained and the effect the project will have on the business in the long term.
Kirsten Williams, Beef and Sheep Consultant, SAC Consulting.
Sign up to the FAS newsletter
Receive updates on news, events and publications from Scotland’s Farm Advisory Service