Economic condition of crofting: 2019 to 2022

This is a report to the Scottish Parliament as outlined in the terms of section 51 of the Crofting Reform (Scotland) Act 2010, reflecting the economic condition of crofting and the measures taken by the Scottish Ministers, the Crofting Commission and others to support crofting during 2019 to 2022.

14. Pillar 2: Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP)

14.1.1. TheScottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) 2014 - 2020delivered Pillar 2 of the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). It funded economic, environmental and social measures for the benefit of rural Scotland. The key purpose of the SRDP 2014-2020 was to help achieve sustainable economic growth in Scotland's rural areas. The main priorities were:

  • Enhancing the rural economy;
  • Supporting agricultural and forestry businesses;
  • Protecting and improving the natural environment;
  • Addressing the impact of climate change; and
  • Supporting rural communities.

14.1.2. All of the schemes were open to crofters.

14.2 Crofting Agricultural Grant Scheme

14.2.1. Crofting exists in areas where agricultural production and investment costs are traditionally high. The Crofting Agricultural Grant Scheme (CAGS) provides grants to tenant and owner-occupier crofters, including sub-tenants, towards the costs of a range of agricultural operations. It is a very popular scheme, attracting on average 950 applications each year.

14.2.2. The CAGS is designed to aid and develop agricultural production on crofting businesses, thereby sustaining the economic basis of crofting, and helping retain people in rural and island communities. Funding supports crofters in carrying out individual or collective investments that reduce production costs, improve quality, preserve and improve the natural environment, and hygiene conditions and animal welfare standards.

14.2.3. Throughout the reporting period the CAGS has funded a variety of projects, including the erection or improvement of agricultural buildings and shelters for out-wintered livestock, and works associated with agricultural buildings (including yards, hard standings and silos), investment in land management, arterial and field drainage, and provision or improvement of equipment for the handling and treatment of livestock.

14.2.4. Since 2016, over £22m in CAGS funding has been approved, helping over 5,000 crofters with their businesses.

Table 14.1 Number of CAGS applications and the value of grants approved each year.
Year Applications % Approved Value Approved Value Spent
Received Approved
2018-19 932 714 77% £4.278m £3.366m
2019-20 1,027 788 77% £4.424m £3.569m
2020-21 1,118 834 76% £4.414m £3.627m
2021-22 749 571 76% £3.654m £4.013m
2022-23[11] 385 230 60%[12] £1.402m £2.342m

14.3 LEADER (Liaison Entre Actions de Développement de l'Economie Rurale)

14.3.1. The LEADER programme, which ran from 2014 to 2020 and closed on 31 December 2021, aimed to promote economic and community development in rural areas, and covered 95% of rural Scotland and included all of the remote rural areas. Crofters, like other members of rural communities, could qualify for grant funding if their application was eligible against the local development strategy for their area.

14.3.2. LEADER enabled innovative approaches to rural problems, including small business and farm diversification. New ideas, co-operation, capacity-building and community empowerment were the central principles behind the bottom-up LEADER approach to decision-making.

14.3.3. Twenty-one Local Action Groups (LAGs) delivered LEADER funding under the SRDP. LAGs are a local partnership of mostly local public agencies working in the rural field and private socio-economic individuals or businesses. Local Authorities act as the Lead Partner for most of the LAGs, responsible for holding and accounting for the LEADER funds, and employing LAG staff.

14.3.4. Table 14.2 below details LEADER LAGs and their indicative allocations, alongside their farm diversification and enterprise actual spend from which projects from crofters could have applied.

Table 14.2 Final Indicative Allocations of LEADER Funding
Local Action Group (LAG) LAG Indicative Allocation Farm diversification and enterprise Actual Spend
Argyll & Islands £3.98m £1.38m
Cairngorms £3.05m £1.30m
Highland £8.96m £3.49m
Moray £3.52m £2.83m
Orkney £2.60m £1.24m
Outer Hebrides £3.23m £1.78m
Shetland £2.56m £1.09m
Total £27.9m £13.1m

14.3.5. An example of a supported crofting project is the 'Outer Hebrides - Shared Steps for Common Grazings'.The project undertook innovative work on designing results-based approaches for supporting common grazings management, thereby opening up the possibility for crofting communities to improve their sustainability through reward for the provision of ecosystem services. This project:

  • Built cooperation between LAGs in Scotland;
  • Provided means by which the natural heritage could be enhanced;
  • Provided means by which climate action could be undertaken in the form of encouraging the better management of peatlands; and
  • Supported crofting, specifically by developing ways by which latent community assets could be transformed into natural capital providing an enhanced income to the managers of common grazings.

LEADER Funding £80,312

Total Project cost £89,236

14.4 Less Favoured Area Support Scheme (LFASS)

14.4.1. Agricultural holdings cover 75% of Scotland's total land area, approximately 5.8m hectares; of this agricultural area, 85% is classed as less favoured. The Less Favoured Area Support Scheme (LFASS) provides essential income support to over 10,800 farming and crofting businesses in remote and constrained rural areas. The current scheme will continue until 2024.

14.4.2. The principal objective of LFASS is to compensate land managers in less favoured areas for the particular disadvantages that they face, and thereby sustain farming and crofting in these areas. This provides the associated economic, social and environmental benefits that are dependent on continued active farming/land management in these areas. A significant proportion of croft land falls within the less favoured area and therefore receives additional support.

14.4.3. Funding is used to:

  • Allow farmers and crofters to continue to operate as viable businesses;
  • Avoid the risk of land abandonment;
  • Help maintain the countryside by ensuring continued agricultural land use; and
  • Maintain and promote sustainable farming systems.
Table 14.3 LFASS funding provided to businesses with common grazing
Year Number of crofter recipients LFASS Funding
2018 3,514 £9,477,851
2019 3,471 £7,841,184
2020 3,491 £4,198,671
2021 3,467 £9,580,104

14.5 Agri-Environment Climate Scheme (AECS)

14.5.1. The Agri-Environment Climate Scheme (AECS) is a competitive scheme that promotes land management practices which protect and enhance Scotland's magnificent natural heritage, improve water quality, manage flood risk and mitigate and adapt to climate change. AECS also helps to improve public access in rural areas and preserve historic sites.

14.5.2. Since 2015, the Scottish Government has invested around £242 million through the AECS to support farmers and crofters to protect and enhance biodiversity, restore nature, improve soil and water quality and to mitigate climate change. This scheme has helped fund and deliver:

  • The Scottish Biodiversity Strategy by supporting appropriate management for vulnerable and iconic species and habitats, strengthening ecological networks, controlling invasive non-native species and enhancing the condition of protected nature sites;
  • Contributes to Scotland's world-leading climate change targets by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and securing carbon stores in peatlands and other organic soils;
  • Meets obligations to improve water quality under the Scotland River Basin Management Plan by reducing diffuse pollution;
  • Controls flooding through natural flood risk management;
  • Supports organic farming;
  • Preserves the historic environment; and
  • Improves public access.

14.5.3. AECS is delivered jointly by the Scottish Government's Rural Payments and Inspections Division (RPID) and NatureScot (formerly SNH).

14.5.4. The first AECS round opened in 2015, and there is one application round each year. The 2022 AECS results will be announced late 2022. It is the intention to offer future rounds of the scheme up to and including 2024, subject to budgetary availability. AECS contracts usually run over a five-year term.

Table 14.4 Total AECS funding provided per Claim Year to business with common grazing
Year Croft Businesses Total AECS Commitments
2019 465 £3,665,677
2020 532 £3,980,149
2021 521 £3,518,006
2022[13] 388 £2,541,232

14.6 Rural Priorities (RP)

14.6.1. The Rural Priorities (RP) scheme, which closed to new applications in 2013, is an integrated funding mechanism established to aid the delivery of the five key outcomes of the SRDP (2007-2013):

  • Business viability and competitiveness;
  • Water quality;
  • Adaptations to mitigate climate change;
  • Biodiversity and landscapes; and
  • Thriving rural communities.

14.6.2. RP contracts usually run over a five-year term for Agri-Environment activities, and up to 20 years for Forestry activities. Therefore, despite the scheme being closed, the Scottish Government continues to make payments to scheme beneficiaries, which benefits the rural economy.

Table 14.5 Total RP funding provided
Year RP Businesses Total Committed
2019 132 £717,870
2020 79 £154,023
2021 78 £149,843
2022[14] 77 £147,312

14.7 Scotland's Farm Advisory Service

14.7.1. Scotland's Farm Advisory Service (FAS) features two distinct components: a One-to-Many advisory service delivered by SAC Consulting, and a One-to-One advisory service delivered by Ricardo AEA. In terms of FAS funding, the Scottish Government has provided a total of £13.9 million between 1 January 2019 and 31 October 2022, over £3.6m per annum.

FAS One-to-Many

14.7.2. The One-to-Many service is a customer-focussed programme which supports crofters and farmers and other rural land managers to improve efficiency, increase biodiversity, and prepare for and mitigate climate change. A key component of the FAS One-to-Many service is the provision of an advisory subscription for crofters as well as a range of free advice and information through workshops, events, and meetings, supported by numerous publications, podcasts, videos and a website.

14.7.3. The subscription for crofters is delivered by advisors based in Lerwick, Kirkwall, Stornoway, Balivanich, Portree, Thurso, Inverness and Oban, ensuring local delivery on a diverse range of technical, community and business issues. Advisors also hold drop-in clinics in island communities and other remote areas. The subscription service provides bespoke advice to crofters on crofting and agricultural topics, and national expertise and support.

Table 14.6 Crofter Subscribers Number and Support
Year Number of Subscriptions Support
2019 2,042 £277,264
2020 2,026 £275,513
2021 2,066 £286,140
2022[15] 1,836 £269,355

14.7.4. Events and publications are themed each year to meet trending topics and demand, and always with climate change, food security and biodiversity in mind.

Croft and Small Farms

14.7.5. The FAS website contains a 'Croft and Small Farms' topic, which provides advice in a way that is tailored to meet the needs of crofters and small farmers. This includes events, advice line support, podcast, videos, case studies and peer-to-peer groups. It aims to increase understanding and use of the Crofting Commission processes, and provide practical solutions to increase efficiency, reduce emissions and support biodiversity net gain.

14.7.6. From 1 January 2019 to 31 October 2022, a total of £519,015 has been spent on crofting support for the Croft & Small Farms topic, comprising events, meetings, publications, and videos. Table 14.7 below, contains the outputs for the 'Croft and Small Farms' topic, from 1 January 2019 to 31 October 2022.

Table 14.7 Croft and Small Farm Attendees
Year Attendees Events Videos Podcasts Online Tools Publications
2019 404 19 7 2 0 4
2020 255 15 17 7 5 38
2021 326 27 13 6 1 11
2022[16] 150 8 12 6 2 1

14.7.7. Examples of Support:

  • In 2019, there was an emphasis on showcasing expertise which improved productivity and efficiency.
  • Crofters' Question Time events were a chance for crofters to engage with local experts, including the Scottish Government's Rural Payments and Inspections Division, NatureScot, local vets, ecologists, SAC advisors, Crofting Commission, the Scottish Crofting Federation and National Farmers Union Scotland.
  • The video 'Bliadhna air a mhachair' was developed, highlighting good practice in growing machair crops. Produced with the help of local crofters, Scottish Natural Heritage, and RSPB Scotland, this video explored best practice in the management of machair, to ensure a balance between production of important outputs and the protection of nesting birds and valued plant species. Focussing on key dates and cultivation practices, the video explained the reasons why these factors matter.
  • To encourage occupation of crofts and young people into crofting, 2020 saw the start of a cartoon film series aimed at explaining crofting regulation, including crofter duties, letting, subletting and assignations.
  • Guidance leaflets for new entrants were produced in English and Gaelic, outlining steps to register a new agricultural and crofting business along with explanations of terminology and support organisations.
  • In conjunction with the Crofting Commission's new Development Team, an assignation tool was developed, to take crofters step by step through the process of transferring the tenancy of their croft.
  • Also in conjunction with the Crofting Commission, two series of events were held for common grazings: one on dealing with disputes, and one on managing finances.
  • Online courses were developed to demonstrate to common grazings committees how to use programmes such as Zoom and Skype.
  • During the years when face-to-face engagement became impossible due to COVID-19, videos and online meetings became an ever more important aspect of the One-to-Many programme output. For crofting areas, virtual meetings overcame some of the barriers to knowledge transfer imposed by distance and off-croft employment.
  • In 2021, an online series helped crofters who wanted to capitalise on the push to 'buy local' and sell their own products. Resources covered topics such as Marketing, Breeding for Success, and Meeting the Regulations, that involved industry partners, Quality Meat Scotland and Food Standards Scotland.
  • In 2022, with the move to online IACS Single Application Form (SAF) applications, a webinar and video were both produced to help new entrants and those using the online system for the first time.
  • A new magazine style show, 'FAS TV' is hosted on the FAS website and YouTube channels, recreating the 'farm visit' and allowing viewers to visit farms and crofts from the comfort of their own home, whilst gaining knowledge and advice from their peers.
  • Podcasts are increasingly popular as a medium for knowledge transfer. 'Crofting Matters,' was added to the podcast portfolio in 2022, joining earlier podcasts on hill cattle, cropping, muirburn, insect protein, and cattle handling on common grazings.

FAS: One-to-One

14.7.8. The One-to-One contract facilitates access to high quality one-to-one consultancy support. This includes advice to: improve biodiversity; increase awareness of habitat and carbon sequestration benefits of woodland planting; promote climate change adaptation and mitigation opportunities; improve business management and efficiency; encourage inclusivity by supporting new entrants and women in agriculture; and helping to support the industry and Scottish Government to evolve to meet future challenges.

14.7.9. Crofters are entitled to the following one-to-one support services and funding:

  • Integrated Land Management Plans (ILMP) - Up to £1,200 per plan;
  • Specialist advice – up to £1,000 funding;
  • Carbon audits - up to £500 per audit, available per annum[17]
  • Mentoring for new entrants to crofting - up to four days one-to-one with a personal mentor.
Table 14.8 FAS One-to-One Support [18]
FAS Support Crofter Beneficiaries Value
Integrated Land Management Plans 65 £78,000
Specialist Advice 127 £127,000
Carbon Audits 106 £53,000
Mentoring Service 32 £32,000

14.8 Highlands and Islands Veterinary Services Scheme (HIVSS)

14.8.1. The aim of the Highlands and Islands Veterinary Services Scheme (HIVSS) is to ensure the provision of suitable veterinary services. This is to prevent, identify and eradicate animal disease for all animals kept for agricultural purposes where no other provisions are available on the market.

14.8.2. It is necessary to support large animal veterinary practices in some remote areas of the Highlands and Islands, because without them, crofters and their animals would be completely without practical veterinary cover. It is important to ensure these practices continue to provide cover for remote areas as they play a vital role in prevention and identification of animal disease.

14.8.3. In practical terms, this means that crofters and other eligible persons can arrange a visit by a participating veterinary surgeon for a modest maximum charge. This charge is supplemented by a grant to the veterinary practice which covers the costs of a visit when a vet is called out to take preventative and eradication measures for animal disease.

14.8.4. The annual budget for the scheme is £760,000, and there are currently 23 veterinary practices participating in the scheme.

Table 14.9 Total HIVSS funding provided Year Grant Expenses
Year Grant Expenses Total
2019 £672,726 £64,769 £737,496
2020 £674,349 £71,532 £745,881
2021 £680,467 £89,954 £770,421
2022[19] £673,810 £78,967 £752,777

14.9 Veterinary and Advisory Services

14.9.1. SRUC Veterinary Services provide the farm animal disease surveillance for Scottish Government under the Veterinary Advisory Services (VAS) programme. It consists of post-mortem and diagnostic services plus expert advice and is delivered to Scottish livestock producers through their veterinary practitioners.

14.9.2. Those using the service pay for a proportion of the cost of the service. Livestock keepers who are identified as crofters benefit from a further 50% reduction in fees for the diagnostic services provided under this funding. In 2021 there were 622 submissions from crofters, and this generated £22,174 of additional subsidy.

14.9.3. In addition, training and continuing professional development events are held for the veterinary practitioners who serve Scotland's crofters; this is also supported under the VAS programme.

14.9.4. SRUC Veterinary Services also initiated a programme to improve biosecurity and control of BVD (Bovine Viral Diarrhoea) on croft land where animals graze. The Scottish Government has seen the benefits of this initiative in terms of a reduction in BVD prevalence across all the crofting areas of Scotland.

14.10 Forestry Grant Scheme

14.10.1. Scotland's woodlands and forests are a vital national resource and play an important role in rural development and sustainable land use. As well as helping to reduce the impact of climate change and providing timber for industry, our forests enhance and protect the environment, and provide opportunities for public enjoyment. Scotland's woodlands and forests are a vital national resource and play an important role in rural development and sustainable land use. As well as helping to reduce the impact of climate change and providing timber for industry, our forests enhance and protect the environment, and provide opportunities for public enjoyment.

14.10.2. The Forestry Grant Scheme (FGS) supports:

  • The creation of new woodlands, contributing towards the Scottish Government target of 18,000 hectares of new woodlands per year from 2024/25; and
  • The sustainable management of existing woodlands.

14.10.3. Through the SRDP, the FGS has seen an increase in funding year on year, paying for the additional national targets to create new woodland. The £62.8m Woodland Grants budget figures for 2021/22 was an increase of £6 million from 2020/21.

14.10.4. Grant support is available under eight categories:

  • Two for the creation of woodland:
    • Woodland Creation
    • Agro Forestry
  • Six for the management of existing woodland:
    • Capital Woodland Improvement Grant
    • Sustainable Management of Forests
    • Tree Health
    • Harvesting and Processing
    • Forest Infrastructure
    • Forestry Co-operation

14.10.5. Within some of these categories, there is a range of funding options which relate to specific types of project or work.

14.10.6. Since it opened to applicants in March 2015, crofters have been able to apply for any of the grants, provided they meet the required eligibility criteria for each option. Due to the nature of crofting not all options under each of the categories will be appropriate. However, there are many that are suitable. For example, under Woodland Creation, there is the option to plant Scots Native Pine, where the minimum block size is 0.25 hectares in any one year. There is an initial planting payment and an annual maintenance payment for five years. There are also a range of capital grants available for operations such as fencing and tree protection.

14.10.7. There is a specific target area for the planting of small native woodlands within the crofting counties, providing these new woodlands meet the eligibility criteria of the 'Native Broadleaves in Northern & Western Isles' woodland creation option and are within areas defined as preferred or potential within the relevant local authority woodland strategy. If a new croft woodland meets the relevant criteria then this provides an increased grant contribution of £840 per hectare more than the standard option rate.

14.11 Small Woodland Loan Scheme

14.11.1. In the face of the current Climate Emergency the Scottish Government has committed to significant tree planting targets. Being able to access grant funding for woodland creation projects has been identified as an important factor in delivering the goal of increasing afforestation to 18,000 hectares per year.

14.11.2. One of the key issues identified as a barrier to entry when considering small scale afforestation is the cost of planning and implementation, with small woodland creation proposals generally being the most expensive to implement on a pounds-per-hectare basis. This can result in high initial outgoings and a fragmented cash-flow that make proposals unviable for smaller businesses.

14.11.3. Scottish Forestry has introduced the Small Woodlands Loan Scheme (SWLS) to support the costs of land managers during the implementation of small-scale woodland creation proposals that have been approved under the Forestry Grant Scheme (FGS). The loan payment assists in bridging the costs of implementation once an applicant has an agreed FGS contract.

14.11.4. Since the introduction of the SWLS in April 2021, there has been four successful loan cases in respect of croft land, with a total loan value of £22,300, creating 5.39 hectares of new woodlands[20].

14.12 Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund (KTIF)

14.12.1. The KTIF opens periodically to assess projects seeking either innovation or knowledge transfer funding. The scheme has been part of the SRDP since 2015, and has supported 45 projects at a total cost of £7.5 million.

14.12.2. The scheme has two main aims. Firstly, it provides financial support to non-Governmental organisations to promote vocational training, skills development and knowledge transfer projects focused on agriculture and crofting. This is delivered through workshops, training courses, coaching, information dissemination actions, and farm visits. The Fund helps Scotland to take advantage of its strong performance in research and development, and makes sure that all the learning can be transferred to on-the-ground improvements in Scottish agriculture.

14.12.3. Secondly, the scheme funds eligible innovation projects designed to support projects that introduce innovative approaches which enhance competitiveness, enhance ecosystems, promote resource efficiency, and shift to low carbon climate resistant economy. They include agricultural demonstration or benchmarking and similar types of projects (eg Monitor Farms); and experimental and pilot projects that aim to introduce new and innovative approaches in agricultural practice.

14.12.4. Specific crofting projects (eight in total) supported under KTIF (years 2019 – 2022):

  • Project name – Agroforestry in Action ii (facilitated by Soil Association Scotland)

Funding amount – £18,862.00

A total of 126 people participated in these events, including crofters, land managers and industry stakeholders. The project was delivered in partnership with Scottish Forestry and focussed on delivering specific and practical knowledge transfer events; supporting the creation of regional networking groups on agroforestry; and continuing to consolidate resources and knowledge from across Scotland on our Agroforestry Web Hub.

  • Project name – Agroecology: Facilitating Mindset Change (facilitated by Nourish Scotland)

Funding amount – £43,575.00

The aim of the project was to widen the understanding of agroecology and to support the shift towards a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy in the agriculture, food and forestry sectors. The partners delivered this through a peer-led farmer-to-farmer and crofter-to-crofter co-operative learning programme.Fifteen learning events were held, with 28 land managers (including crofters) being supported to host the events with 305 Scotland based participants.

  • Project name – Crofters & Smallholders Skills Boost [21](facilitated by the Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF))

Funding amount – £267,618.00

The 2016 to 2019 Crofters and Smallholders Skills Boost training project, managed by the SCF, addressed a lack of non-accredited vocational training in the Highlands and Islands. Its intention was to increase skills and improve the viability of crofting agriculture providing associated economic, social and environmental benefits to rural communities. The project reached a total of 1,646 people over 1,792 training days. Of those that participated, 56% were female and 39% were aged 40 or under.

  • Project name – Farming with Nature (facilitated by Soil Association Scotland)

Funding amount – £160,470.00

Farming with Nature was a three-year knowledge transfer, skills development and innovation programme designed to work with farmers, crofters and environmental practitioners to support nature-friendly farming by integrating profitable agricultural production with biodiversity and ecosystem service objectives. The programme focused on using organic, agroecological and High Nature Value production methods, which have a sound scientific evidence-base for protecting and enhancing the natural environment. A total of 28 events were delivered for 594 individual farmers, crofters, and others.

  • Project name – Farming for the Future (FFF) (facilitated by Soil Association Scotland)

Funding amount – £208,720.00

The purpose of FFF was to support farmers and crofters across Scotland interested in productive and profitable farming and land use, using low-input and sustainable approaches to build financial and environmental resilience in a changing climate. FFF focused on low-input and sustainable farming and land-use covering four broad themes: soil management; crop and grassland management; animal health and productivity; woodland creation and management; and organic farming a SRDP National Priority. A total of 840 farmers, crofters, land managers and other people working in agri-food businesses and services participated in 41 FFF events.

  • Project name – ParkLife project (facilitated by Shetland Agri-Environment Group)

Funding amount – £40,381.14

The aim of the project was to empower the farming and crofting community to take a leadership role in managing its environmental resources for the benefit of biodiversity. It focused on trialling participation in the monitoring of breeding waders and their habitats. The project supported the creation of a Wader Grassland scorecard that measures habitat quality and incentivises beneficial management practices. The leaflet 'Farmland waders in Shetland – A best practice guide for farmers and crofters' was also produced and widely distributed in local agricultural community.

  • Project name – Farming for Biodiversity (facilitated by Soil Association Scotland)

Funding amount – £57,774.00

A key objective of the project was to increase the environmental and business performance of agricultural businesses by enabling farmers, crofters, and land managers to respond and adapt to climate change; help restore biodiversity and ecosystem health; meet growing demand for nature and climate friendly food; and be a key driver for Scotland's 'green recovery'. The project focused on the practice of 'mob grazing' to increase biodiverse habitat – unimproved grassland within enclosed farmlandanddeliver management practices which can betranslated into effective action and replicated across different types of farming enterprise and biogeographical and climatic settings in Scotland.

14.13 Scottish Rural Network

14.13.1. The Scottish Rural Network (SRN) is funded by the Scottish Government as part of the SRDP. The SRN encourages rural development by sharing information, ideas and good practice. The SRN works with and for anyone who lives, works or has an interest in rural Scotland.

14.13.2. The aims of the SRN are to:

  • Get more people from rural communities, businesses and the wider public involved in policy developments that affect them;
  • Help improve the delivery of the SRDP and wider agri and forestry schemes including the National Test Programme and the future Agriculture Reform Bill;
  • Inform crofters, farmers, rural businesses and communities about policy and funding opportunities; and
  • Encourage innovation in agriculture, food production, forestry and rural areas.

14.13.3. The SRN provides support to the crofting community by promoting funding and learning and development opportunities through its communication channels and by directly funding projects specific to the development and sustainability of crofting.

Organised Crofting Events Promoted

14.13.4. Since 2019 the SRN has promoted a number of crofting events, many of which are of popular interest amongst the crofting community and stakeholders, including:

  • Women in Crofting;
  • Virtual Crofting Course – preparing for staycations,
  • Integrating woodland on new entrant farms and crofts;
  • Crofting the Brand – Adding Value;
  • Highlands and Morayshire Regional Agritourism, with a Focus on Crofting;
  • Crofting and Grazing - Using NoFence Collar Technology; and
  • The Green Bowl' - Running a Crofting Township Food Hub.

Online Promotion

14.13.5. The SRN continues to promote crofting through various means including news articles directly related to crofting, which have been published on the SRN website. It also promotes numerous advisory and support opportunities such as SRDP, the Farm Advisory Service and its 'Croft and Small farm Subscription' service, Rural Innovation Support Service , and the numerous crofting related funding opportunities made publicly available via the SRN/SCVO (Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations) funding search tool.

14.13.6. In addition to its website, SRN uses various social media platforms to promote crofting, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo and Flickr and has also commissioned two crofting focussed podcast episodes of OnFarm.

Project Funding

14.13.7. Crofting projects that received SRN funding to promote and support crofting include:

  • £33,000 provided to the Woodland Croft Partnership over two years to support and promote the development of woodland crofts;
  • £18,650 grant award to Orkney Local Action Group for a Orkney Farm/Croft Diversification and Biodiversity Officer; and
  • Funding was provided to the Rural Innovation Support Service 2019-2021 that supported a number of projects which are relevant or relate to crofting, including Veg Box Group, Skye Mutton Project, Access to abattoirs in Argyll and the PolyProduce Project.

14.14 Food Processing, Marketing and Co-operation

14.14.1. The Scottish Government is committed to supporting investment and expansion in Scotland's food and drink sector. Croft businesses that are involved in the processing and marketing of agricultural produce into food products, can apply for support from the Food Processing, Marketing and Co-operation (FPMC) scheme. This includes individual croft businesses, groups of croft businesses (constituted groups), companies that process agricultural products into food products, market their own produce or are involved in collaborative working within the food chain.

14.14.2. The FPMC scheme provides grant funding to:

  • develop or create food processing facilities, including buildings and equipment;
  • market products in home and export markets;
  • run pilot projects and feasibility studies; and
  • to run co-operative ventures to ensure more value is retained by both farmers and growers and to improve supply-chain efficiency.

14.14.3. In 2022-23[22] a total of 33 businesses, large and small, received grants ranging from £16,000 to £1.4 million from the FPMC grant scheme. A total of £10 million was awarded.



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