Fresh Thinking for New Entrants Says NFUS

NFU Scotland has called for Scottish agriculture to adopt fresh thinking to help support the necessary progression of new entrants into the farming sector.

NFUS formed its own New Generation group in 2011.  The group aims to reduce the barriers to entry, create a level playing field for new entrants to Scottish agriculture and to encourage existing businesses to create succession plans.

Speaking at the New Entrants Forum in Edinburgh today (Wednesday, 12 September), NFU Scotland President Nigel Miller suggested that a wide range of potential solutions, incentives and support packages merit consideration to ensure progression up the Scottish farming ladder.

The Union backed the creation of a New Entrants Advisory Panel, as announced by the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Richard Lochhead at the event and look to this group to develop the themes outlined by Mr Miller.

Mr Miller said:

“Given the significant number of challenges faced by anyone who is minded to get a foothold on the Scottish farming ladder, we need to be very broad and innovative in our thinking if we are to support them in their ambition.

“Access to land remains a priority issue.  Short term devices such as short limited duration tenancies (SLDT) and limited duration tenancies (LDT) offer access but can be costly given their value and attractiveness to existing businesses.  They also offer new starts time-limited security.  This means that traditional tenancies, which cover a significant area of Scottish farmland, are likely to remain the most important route in.

“That makes it important that, as older tenants wish to retire, we provide a pathway for a new generation to take over. When there is no direct succession in place, we need to establish how such farms can be made available to new blood and that letting to the new generation is a viable alternative to merging units or letting them to existing businesses. It is in the long-term interests of the industry that we come up with some positive views how new entrants can access any bank of land that becomes free.

“Another option worth developing is share farming.  We have limited experience of this in Scotland, although this approach is widely adopted in places like New Zealand.  It provides options to plan for retirement, build up capital or assets, generate a base to grow the business and deliver value to both partners.

“NFUS has also made it clear that with changes to the CAP planned, we need to ensure that the support systems deliver for new entrants or those who have just started out in the industry from day one of any new regime. 

“We believe those active farmers currently operating without a Single Farm Payment merit a full area payment and that a national reserve will be necessary.  We also need to look very closely at how any future rural development programme for Scotland can support this group.  Can new entrants be prioritised and given support with the capital expenditure on things like livestock accommodation, machinery, fencing and drainage that they will face in the first few years?

“The right support package for new entrants also needs to be backed up by the right advisory, technical and financial structure.  That brings in any future official advisory service, government agencies, SAC, banks and others – all of whom have a stake in the future health and well being of our industry.

“The success of NFU Scotland’s New Generation group has shown that those best placed to outline such needs and requirements are those who see their future in Scottish agriculture.  We welcome the creation today of the New Entrants Advisory Panel and hope that it mirrors the success that NFUS has had with our New Generation group.

“We are at a crucial period in policy development, we need to get new people into Scottish farming and having a direct route for this group to future proof policy is of value.  This group will represent a different generation, they won’t be constrained by traditional thinking and they will be looking to push the boundaries for the long-term good of Scottish farming."

Notes to Editors

• NFU Scotland President Nigel Miller was speaking at the New Entrants Forum taking place in the Carlton Hotel, Edinburgh today (Wednesday, 12 September).

• Two members of NFU Scotland’s New Generation Group – Andrew Stevenson and Iain Mackay – participated in a panel session at the event.

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 97/12

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