High Demand for Forestry Commission Starter Farms

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New entrants to farming appear eager to take up Forestry Commission Scotland’s opportunity to lease part-time ‘starter farm’ units on the National Forest Estate.

The Commission launched its pilot ‘starter farm’ initiative at the end of January (2012).  The scheme provides new entrants with an opportunity to lease part-time farming units from the National Forest Estate and enable them to get a first foothold in the industry.

Two units in Fife (South Dundonald Farm, Lochgelly and Pitcairn Farm, Cardenden) are currently on offer and the Commission is delighted that to date over 50 application packs for each site have already been issued to interested parties.

Robin Waddell, Agricultural Advisor, Forestry Commission Scotland, said;
“It is widely recognised that tenancy opportunities for new entrants are limited so we expected demand for the ‘starter farms’ to be high.  So far we have had a very positive response and this is exactly what we had hoped for. The vast majority of interest is definitely from Scotland however we have had enquiries from as far afield as Australia!  Early indications are that we will have a good number of applications to process after the closing date.”

Closing date for applications is Tuesday 17 April 2012 after which applications will be processed by a selection panel made up of Forestry Commission and industry representatives.

The panel includes prominent Fife farmer, John Cameron from Kilcolquhar.  Mr Cameron said;

“I am pleased to be involved with this exciting initiative which is demonstrating an understanding of the need for tenancy opportunities to get new people into farming.

“The panel will assess each application against a pre-determined scoring matrix that focuses on the applicant’s abilities, motivation and business plan.  We’ll also be looking at how the candidates will supplement the farm income as the farms are relatively small and would be a part-time business opportunity for the successful individual.”

For further information about Forestry Commission Scotland starter farm initiative, application details and the selection process, visit www.forestry.gov.uk/starterfarms
Notes for editors

1.      The selection panel for Forestry Commission Scotland Starter Farms is made up of Brent Meakin (Forest District Manager, Scottish Lowlands), Laurie Tyson (Head of Estates, FCS), Robin Waddell (Agricultural Advisor, FCS), Henry Graham (FCS Board Member), Brian Stevenson (Principal Agricultural Officer, SGRPID Perth) and John Cameron (Farmer, Balbuthie, Kilconquhar, Leven)

2.      Attached photo:  John Cameron, Farmer, Balbuthie, Kilcolquhar, Leven: member of selection panel for Forestry Commission Scotland's 'starter farm' pilot initiative.

3.      Forestry Commission Scotland serves as the Scottish Government’s forestry directorate, managing, protecting and enhancing the 660,000 hectare national forest estate in ways that deliver benefits to Scotland’s people, communities, biodiversity and economy. www.forestry.gov.uk/scotland .

4.     Both these farms in Fife consist of grade 3.2 agricultural land and land that has been reinstated following colliery workings. They were both on the market for over a year before the FC Scotland offers were accepted. Around half the land on each farm will be wooded, with the remaining half being made available for farming. The farmed area at Pitcairn will be about 95 hectares and the farmed area at South Dundonald will be about 49 hectares. Both include a farm house and farm buildings.   

5.    Notaichean
Tha FCS ag obair mar bhuidheann-stiùiridh coilltearachd Riaghaltas na h-Alba agus a' riaghladh nan 660,000 heactairean ann an Oighreachd na Coille Nàiseanta, a' dìonadh, a' cumail smachd air agus a' leudachadh nan coilltean gus buannachdan a thoirt dha coimhearsnachdan, an eaconamaidh agus, ag obair an aghaidh atharrachadh gnàth-shìde. www.forestry.gov.uk/scotland
Airson agallamhan anns a' Ghàidhlig, cuiribh fios gu Oifigear Leasachaidh Gàidhlig a' Choimisean, Louise NicBheathain air 01463 725 038.

6.    Media enquiries:
Diana McGowan, Forestry Commission Scotland, Communications Manager 0131 314 6162 / 07881 811358

e-mail: diana.mcgowan@forestry.gsi.gov.uk