2014-01-29  

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Gathering Organised for New Entrants to Farming

A special gathering is to be held at Murrayfield, Edinburgh on Wednesday 26 February for anyone who has just become a farmer or for those wanting to be.

Scotland’s farming industry needs new blood but getting into and making a success of farming is not easy. That is why a Scottish Government programme for new entrants is being run by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and the gathering is part of that programme.

Student Farmers

The free event is to be opened by Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead MSP, will be an opportunity for those already involved in the programme and others to meet key industry figures and hear presentations on issues of key concern to new entrants. The conference starts at 10.00am and closes at 3.30pm.

One of those who will be attending is Mark Donald who, with partner Harriet Smith, has a ten year Limited Duration Tenancy on Rynaclach, a Forestry Commission Scotland Starter Farm at Ruskie, near Port of Mentieth. The couple, who had spent 5 years trying for farms and holdings across the UK, have found the Scottish Government’s New Entrants Programme very valuable.

“The informal tutorials and seminars from SRUC experts are not only useful in themselves,” says Mark, “they also introduce you to others in the same boat. That can be supportive, but it also gives you an idea of the high standard of competition you are up against when going for a farm. The gathering in Edinburgh will be an opportunity to explain the problems to key policy makers.”

That access to those involved with policy is also valued by young Fife farmer Craig Malone who has just taken the tenancy of Pitcairn Farm, a Forestry Commission Scotland Starter Unit at Cardenden. When not working for others as a self employed stockman he plans to build up the livestock on his new 250 acre unit. It offers some stability after years of using short term grass lets and rented sheds as he tried to build his business.

“It is important for new entrants to get their message across,” says Craig.” As a member of one of the 7 regional groups in the programme I have learned a lot about things like CAP reform, budgeting and so on. The Murrayfield gathering will be a chance to network with folk in the same situation and get our case across.”

After the opening address by Richard Lochhead MSP invited speakers, with their own experiences of starting from scratch will address key issues. This includes the work of the Government’s Agricultural Holdings Review presently underway, comparisons with the French approach to encouraging new entrants, as well as some inspirational and encouraging words from those who have been involved in what can be a long journey.

Agricultural Policy Consultant Douglas Bell, of SRUC’s SAC Consulting Division has run New Entrants Groups in Wigtownshire, Ayrshire, Lanarkshire, Argyll, Caithness, West Lothian and the North East.

While the event is free it would help those arranging catering if those planning to attended register with Janis Forrest of SAC Consulting on 0131 603 7525.

SRUC

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