A land matching service has been launched by the Scottish Government with the aim of connecting potential new entrants into the industry with owners who have land available, backed by the provision of “unbiased guidance and support” for both parties.
The new service, which is hosted by NFU Scotland (NFUS), was unveiled by Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing during a visit to Waterside Farm, near Dunblane, where new farming entrants Pat and Jess Kimpton recently agreed a five-year joint venture with the farm’s owner, Robin Young.
“Availability of land remains one of the primary barriers to attracting new entrants to farming and I am clear that overcoming this challenge is vital for the future sustainability of the industry,” said Mr Ewing.
He also said, however, that with current land matching, joint venture and contract farming agreements administered by a range of parties, the advice available is often “ad hoc and variable in quality”. Mr Ewing added: “That’s why this new service is so important. It will manage a database of potential service users, offering them support to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome.”
The joint venture agreement at Waterside Farm is seen as a way to enable the Kimptons to run their own farming business, while also delivering benefits for Mr Young.
Mr Kimpton said: “This is a great opportunity to get a foot on the ladder and grow our own business. It also helps to share the risk, so we will have more confidence to develop further. Having good- quality impartial advice is also essential for that.”
Mr Young agreed and said: “It’s given us confidence to invest in our business as well as enabling a young couple to develop and grow their own business in tandem.”
Although the Waterside Farm agreement pre-dates the new service, Mr Young said he hoped it will open up opportunities for others and highlight the benefits of collaborative working.
NFUS head of policy Gemma Cooper said the service will play a pivotal role in helping to address some of the issues that exist when accessing land.