Report on New Farming Starter Opportunities on Publicly Owned Land
- R1 Publicly owned land is managed by many different organisations in Scotland and for a New Entrants project to be successful; there must be a coordinated approach. Hence the Group recommends the development of a New Entrants Opportunities Programme
- R2 The Group understands that the existing New Entrants Panel could be coming to a natural closure following conclusion of the CAP. It is recommended that a New Entrants Group is now established with a revised remit/terms and to coordinate a New Entrant Opportunities Programme.
- R3 Further communication is still required with publicly owning land managers to identify and encourage the letting of smaller units as the initial building block of any successful new entrant business. This communication should also be used to dispel some of the fears for change and highlight that structured opportunities are possible within current guidance. If public land managers are having difficulty in developing potential opportunities, then members of this Group have agreed to support the development and implementation of these opportunities if desirable. This can be further developed when a New Entrants Group is formed.
- R4 Where units are provided, there is likely to be an expectation that the tenant will seek to grow and move on from these at the end of the term allowing others to enter the sector by similar routes. To allow this, public bodies should be flexible about renunciations and lease alterations to allow growth. There is also the need to be flexible with the lengths of the lease agreements but they should be longer than just a seasonal let.
- R5 Forest Enterprise Scotland has developed selection criteria with a scoring matrix that favours new tenants (whilst not excluding established farmers) and it is recommended that such a system is made available to other public bodies and used, with the involvement of an independent member from this Group, for all New Entrant parcels of land.
- R6 The Group believes it is important to pilot the new scoring matrix on small tenders in 2016 and, indeed, some available land has already been successfully let to New Entrants on this basis. Public bodies with less experience of marketing agricultural opportunities should seek to bring land parcels forward with the assistance of experienced bodies and the support of the New Entrants Group.
- R7 Different organisations will rightly advertise any new opportunities through their usual regional and national outlets but there is also the need to highlight these opportunities on the Scottish Government website. This needs to be explored further.
- R8 This report has focussed on publicly owned land for New Entrants and how an initiative like this can play its part in economic growth and overall positive sustainable development. However there are many other owners of land in Scotland such as Charities, Communities where it is hoped this project will provide a lead in how New Entrants can grow their careers by providing the right opportunities for them.
- R9 The Group identified that most starter opportunities will be offered through short and longer term leases. However, the Group also identified examples of successful share and contract farming arrangements and it is important to establish a broad "toolkit" with a library of good case studies which interested parties can refer to.
- R10 The Group seeks approval of the report by the Cabinet Secretary.