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Mentoring for new farmers and crofters

New farmer or crofter? Take advantage of free mentoring support to grow your business

If you are considering becoming a farmer or crofter, or have set up business in the last five years, then you are entitled to free support through the Farm Advisory Service’s mentoring programme.

Setting up any business is challenging, farming and crofting is no different. Because the success of new entrants to the farming industry is critical to the industry’s overall long term sustainability, the Scottish Government is funding the Farms Advisory Service’s mentoring programme.

As a new entrant, the programme gives you access to the valuable skills and knowledge of an experienced mentor, matched to your business’s needs, who can guide you through the vital set-up and early growth-years of your business.

Typical skills that mentors offer you include:

  • Detailed knowledge and experience of agriculture and running farm businesses
  • A mastery of traditional skills e.g. stone walling, hedge laying etc.
  • Land based educational and skills background
  • Food and drink industry experience
  • Finance and business planning know-how
  • Surveying and planning skills
  • Knowledge of conservation and biodiversity
  • Forestry or woodland skills

Free Integrated Land Management Plans (ILMPs) available to new entrants
New entrants (businesses operating for five years or less), can now apply for up to £1,200 of government funding to cover the full costs of an ILMP. The participating business will only need to pay the VAT.

An ILMP is designed to provide business owners and managers with clear, practical advice on how best to achieve business goals. Independent and confidential, an adviser will work with businesses to explore the potential to develop competitive advantage or technical excellence in areas where the business is strong or has growth potential. Click here for more information on ILMPs

Reset of applications cap per business
From 1 April, restrictions on the number of ILMPs and specialist advice reports a single business can undertake will reset. Farming and crofting businesses that have already completed an ILMP and two follow-on specialist advice reports can apply for the same level of support for a second time.

Who can apply?

Mentoring support is available to those who have set up or become head of a farming business within the last five years. You will need to be registered in Scotland with the Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS) and hold a Business Reference Number (BRN).

Find out more and apply

For further information and to apply for free mentoring support please telephone the Farm Advisory Service advice line on 0300 323 0161.

Apply online

Alternatively, you can download a copy of the application form here.

Why this programme is so important to the industry

Concerns about the lack of new entrants to farming are not unique to Scotland. Similar anxieties have been expressed in many developed countries for the last 20 years. However, Scotland’s principal farmers are indeed ageing. The number of farmers aged over 65 increased from 22% in 2000 to 27% in 2007. At the same time, the number of farmers under 45 has fallen from 25% to 19%. It is estimated that the average age of Scottish farmers is around 58 and a large proportion do not have a successor in place.
New entrants are therefore essential to the sustainability of the Scottish farming industry. However, potential new entrants are faced with a number of barriers to entry that has meant that many have turned away from farming in favour of other career options.
The Scottish Government’s New Entrants to Farming Programme, delivered by SRUC, aims to address concerns over the lack of new entrants to farming, by delivering support to new and potential entrants. The programme provides advice on how to effectively enter and survive in the industry, the skills required, and the support measures available through mechanisms such the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP).

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