Agricultural holdings including crofting and small landholdings

Policy actions  3 of 3

Small landholdings

Small holdings and small landholdings are a part of our agricultural heritage and Scottish Ministers are strongly aware of their role and unique status in rural Scotland.

Small Landholdings and Statutory Small Tenancies are tenanted holdings. These types of tenancy arrangements are regulated under the Small Landholdings Acts 1886-1931 and only exist in Scotland outwith the Crofting Counties. Less than 75 holdings remain at present. 

We carried out a review of Small Landholdings in Scotland and published findings in 2017. The recommendations in the review included the publication of a legal guide and further research into small landholdings.

Legal Guide to Small Landholdings - the review identified that legislation surrounding Small Landholdings is very complex. As a result, we subsequently commissioned and published a Legal Guide to assist those involved or interested in this sector of Scottish Agriculture. To ensure ease of understanding, a Plain English version of the guide can be found at the front of the booklet.

Small Landholdings Landownership & Registration Research Report - Newcastle University, on behalf of Scottish Government, carried out research to consider the changes to ownership of Small Landholdings over time and the feasibility of re-establishing an administrative register of Small Landholdings, as recommended in the review.

Smallholdings can be either owner-occupied or tenanted holdings. They typically operate on 20 hectares (50 acres) or less and there are around 20,000 smallholdings in existence Scotland. Smallholdings are not regulated or subject to any piece of legislation.

You may also find these links to services useful:

Crofter and Small Farm Advisory Service – the Crofter and Small Farm Advisory Service provides part-funded subscription and consultancy services to crofting businesses and small farm businesses. If you are a crofter or have a holding of less than 30 hectares, then you can make use of the subscription for advice on a range of topics. SAC Agricultural & Conservation Consultants combine local knowledge with extensive experience. 

RPID – Rural Payments and Services is delivered by the Scottish Government’s Rural Payments and Inspections Division (RPID), with delivery partners. RPID is the accredited paying agency in Scotland for all European Commission Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) schemes. RPID have around 600 staff in 17 area offices throughout Scotland providing a range of services. Please contact your local area office if you have any questions.

Small Farm Grant Scheme - this scheme provides grants for small farmers to make improvements to their holdings and helps to sustain their businesses. Funding can be used for capital projects, such as the construction or improvement of agricultural buildings. Eligibility criteria is based on size of holding (3-30 ha) and off-farm income. 

You may also be eligible for the basic payment scheme. Find out more: how to apply for all RPID schemes 

The Accidental Smallholder – this online forum site has a significant amount of information that may be helpful to the running of your agricultural business:

Smallholding Scotland – this registered Scottish charity has the objective of representing all small-scale farming in Scotland. 



Mail to:
Scottish Government
Agricultural Holdings Team
Agriculture and Rural Directorate
D Spur, Saughton House
Broomhouse Drive
EH11 3XD

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