We can all benefit from a little help from time to time, especially when we’re tackling something new. A guiding hand from someone with experience can give us reassurance and help us make the right decisions.
So, if you are approaching your first spring on the farm or croft with a little trepidation, or even your fourth or fifth, the good news is that support is available to help with business development and practical skills growth. If you are new to the industry or have been farming/crofting for five years or less, you are eligible for the Farm Advisory Services’ (FAS) mentoring programme.
Each farm or croft is individual and the beauty of this scheme is that the help you receive will be tailored to your specific needs. Each new entrant will have issues they want guidance with, from understanding how to run a business to technical skills like surveying and planning. Support is also available to those with a farming background who have recently become head of a farming business.
Mentors can help new business owners to develop skills and knowledge in a range of areas and practical topics, relevant to the day-to-day operation of a farming or crofting business. Typical skills that mentors offer include experience of running a farming business, finance and business planning, knowledge of agriculture and the food and drink industry, and practical skills such as animal husbandry or hedge laying. The mentor’s time is fully subsidised by FAS, so there is no cost to you.
Applicants can nominate someone they know already from their local area or who has been recommended to them by others to be their mentor. Once granted mentor status through FAS (following a short review of the application), the mentorship can begin.
For those who haven’t identified a mentor, FAS can help find an experienced farmer or crofter who has thorough understanding of the areas you need help with.
New entrants can access up to four days of free, one-to-one time with their mentor. How that time is spent is up to you. Some people choose to work with their mentor intensively over successive days to shadow their work processes and build practical skills quickly, while others adopt a more flexible schedule – allocating time for training over several weeks throughout the year, depending on what works best for both parties.
Mentoring is different to receiving other sorts of professional advice as it provides an opportunity to build a relationship and network that will benefit you for years to come.
New entrants are an important part of the agriculture industry and FAS is here to make sure you are as successful as you can possibly be. View our case studies to find out how others have benefitted. To apply or for more information, visit https://www.fas.scot/mentoring-new-farmers-crofters/ or call 0300 323 0161 or email email@example.com.
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