What are the Forestry Commission’s starter units I have heard about?
Forest Enterprise Scotland (FES) created a pilot back in 2012 to offer, new entrants to farming a route in to agriculture. This was funded through the FES repositioning programme and driven by the desire to meet the twin objectives of integrating farming and forestry, and meeting Scottish Ministers outcomes of creating opportunities for new entrant to agriculture. The pilot in 2012 was a huge success and now to date there are 9 FES starter farms from Caithness to Dalbeattie on Scotland’s National Forest Estate. In addition to this, there is one Scottish Government starter farm based in Inverness.
The units vary in size, but the model includes farms covering approximately 110 acres of agricultural land. These are leased out on 10 year SLDT agreements to the new entrants. The applicants under go a rigorous competitive application process including completing a business plan and cash flow projections for the proposed business, completing a series of questions including motivation, income plans, health and safety, training, farming policy, etc. If they are successful in doing this, they are then called for interview and face a panel of five or six people ranging from FES, local farmer, bank representative and a local Scottish Government representative.
Upon being successful in gaining a tenancy, the tenant moves in to the farm and begins a 10 year journey.