New Entrants

The New Entrants to Farming Programme includes numerous activities to aid potential and aspiring new entrants to the agricultural industry.   These activities ensure people are aware of the opportunities that exist and have a skills set and knowledge set that equips them for success in the industry.

Potential new entrants must have the skills and the ability to act upon any opportunities that arise.  The programme aims to provide the skills required to ensure that new entrants have the capability and confidence to develop and build successful businesses.  This will enable new entrants to grasp opportunities that become available.

There is a network of new entrant groups across the country helping individuals at various stages in developing their business.  For more information or where to find your nearest group contact Kirsten Williams, Consultant, SAC Consulting, 01888 563333 Kirsten.Williams@sac.co.uk

New entrants, often considered more innovative and likely to invest and adopt new technologies and techniques, are essential for the long-term sustainability of the Scottish farming industry.  However, they are faced with a number of barriers to entry that has meant that many potential new entrants have turned away from farming in favour of other, more financially secure, career options.  Many studies have identified a wide range of barriers such as,

  • lack of capital (start-up finance)
  • land being available for starting a business
  • competition for land from established farmers
  • difficulty accessing finance and concerns over servicing debt
  • lack of financial reward
  • bureaucracy
  • support mechanisms

Generally, there are three classifications of potential new entrant,

  • identified farm successors
  • those from a farming background that will not inherit a farm but may be on the “agriculture ladder” (e.g. from farm worker to manager, to contract farmer, to tenant to owner occupier, etc.)
  • new blood to the industry from other sectors of the economy. However, whilst there are common difficulties faced by all potential entrants, there are often barriers specific to each type, such as lack of capital for those on the agricultural ladder, lack of agricultural skills for those entering from other sectors and facilitating effective succession on family farms.

This programme will aid in contributing towards an increase in the number of young entrepreneurs entering farming and building profitable, innovative businesses that respond to the industry’s changing economic environment.

Free mentoring support for new farmers and crofters

If you are a new farmer or crofter, or have set up business in the last five years, then you are also entitled to free support through the Farm Advisory Service’s mentoring programme.  This can give 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 could offer include:

  • Experience of running a farm business
  • Traditional skills such as stone walling, hedge laying etc.
  • Food and drink industry experience

To download your mentoring application form today click here.  Should you need further information, or require a hard copy of this form, please telephone the Farm Advisory Service advice line on 0300 323 0161.

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 24% to 31% in the last 10 years to 2015. At the same time, the number of farmers under 45 has fallen. 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.

The Scottish Government’s New Entrants to Farming Programme, delivered by SRUC, aims to support, enthuse and inspire those who want to join this great industry. The programme provides advice on how to effectively enter and thrive in the industry, the skills required, and support measures available which may include grant funding – through mechanisms such as the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP).

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