Policy actions  1 of 2

New entrants to farming

Attracting new entrants to Scottish farming is crucial to the ongoing vitality, resilience and competitiveness of the sector. 

Finding a way into farming can be a daunting prospect, particularly if the prospective new entrant does not come from a farming background. Even in farming families, the business might not be of sufficient scale to support a new entrant. 

We recognise there are considerable challenges to entering the sector. Access to finance, land, advice, training and skills are all potential barriers.  We have, therefore, put in place a number of initiatives to help with entry.

Farming Opportunities for New Entrants (FONE) group

We set up the FONE group in late 2016 to provide a co-ordinated approach to developing opportunities for new entrants.  So far, FONE has helped 70 new entrants into the agricultural sector by providing over 107 opportunities and over 6,990 hectares of land.

Find out more: Farming Opportunities for New Entrants Group

Land opportunities

We work with a number of organisations to identify possible opportunities across Scotland. The 2021 land opportunities are advertised below:

Land opportunity: 

1. Forestry Land Scotland (FLS) are now advertising (March 2021) a number of Grazing opportunity at Loch Chon, near Aberfoyle; Brackenhill Conservation Grazing; West Dunbartonshire; South Lanarkshire; and two in East Ayrshire. For full information please see Forestry and Land Scotland webpages.

2. Scottish Land Matching Service (SLMS) are now advertising (March 2021). Please visit Scottish Land Matching Service webpages for further details.

New entrants schemes/finance

The Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) 2014-20 included three dedicated grant schemes that helped kick-start more than 250 new agricultural businesses and assisted hundreds of other business development projects with around £24 million of support.  These were the only type of their kind across the UK and proved extremely popular leading to their early closure in 2018 when their budgets were fully committed. 

Whilst, there are currently no plans to reintroduce such specific schemes in the immediate post-2020 period, the Programme for Government 2020-21 committed the Scottish Government to “bring forward recommendations for new mechanisms of agricultural support that secure a productive sector better able to contribute towards delivering Scotland’s climate change outcomes and promote new employment opportunities”.  To achieve this we are committed to co-developing new ways of working with our farming and crofting communities through farmer led groups supported by scientific and economic expertise from SRUC and our main research providers.  It is, however, too early to offer specific detail around these plans.

In the meantime, support to new entrants will continue through FONE and the Scottish Land Matching Service which despite the profound impact of COVID will continue to engage with those seeking or offering joint venture arrangements.  In addition, the National Reserve Young Farmer category is expected to continue through to 2024 providing young farmers the opportunity to receive an allocation of payment entitlements under the Basic Payment Scheme as is the Young Farmer Payment, which is also expected to continue providing young farmers a top-up to their Basic Payment Scheme.

Advice and mentoring

The Farm Advisory Service New Entrants to Farming Programme includes activities to aid potential and aspiring new entrants into the agricultural industry.

This includes access to a network of groups across the country helping people at various stages in developing their business.  For more information or where to find your nearest group contact: Kirsten Williams, SAC Consulting, Telephone: 01888 563333 or email: Kirsten.Williams@sac.co.uk

If you are considering becoming a 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

Related information

New entrants can find more information: