Admitting it was not as much as he would have liked to do but it was right up to the limit of what he was allowed under European Union regulations, Scottish rural affairs minister Richard Lochhead yesterday unveiled a £2 million package to support new entrants currently excluded from receiving single farm payments.
Lochhead said that no decision had been taken on how that cash would be spent in the next two years before the current reform of the Common Agricultural Policy comes into operation and new entrants would gain eligibility for support.
He told delegates attending the annual meeting of NFU Scotland that discussion would take place with the new entrants panel which he established last year on the best way of deploying the funding.
“This is no substitute for direct support but I hope it will offer some assistance until the new CAP appears,” he said.
“I want to encourage new blood into agriculture to ensure we can produce food for the nation.”
The minister also announced the latest tenants on Forestry Commission starter farms.
Ross and Kirsten Williams will take on the tenancy of Upper Tullochbeg, Huntly, Richard O’Rourke and Aimee Mitchell will farm at Falgunzeon, Dumfries and Alister Orr, at Carserigg, Kirkconnel.
Lochhead said the starter farms provided real opportunities for the next generation of farmers: “It is an excellent example of both optimizing land use and collaborative working across forestry and agricultural sectors.”