Public land made available for new farmers

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Over 1,000 hectares of public land is to be leased to new farmers as part of an effort to attract more people to the sector.

A number of organisations, including Forestry Enterprise Scotland, Scottish Water, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, East Lothian and Highland Councils will release the land across Scotland this spring for around 50 new farmers.

With less than 10% of Scotland’s farmers aged 40 or younger, the initiative is aimed at encouraging a new generation into agriculture.

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing
Fergus Ewing announced the measures to attract new farmers (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “One of the primary barriers to attracting new entrants to farming is the availability of land.

“That is why I am pleased to announce that public bodies will release over 1,000 hectares of land this spring.

“The release of land is the direct result of the work of the Farming Opportunities for New Entrants group, which I launched in December 2016 with the specific remit of developing farming opportunities for new entrants.

“With the average age of Scottish farmers at 58 years of age, attracting new entrants to farming is vital for the long-term sustainability of the industry.

“New entrants drive innovation and best practice, improve efficiencies and contribute towards the overall economic vitality of the sector.”