Ian Davidson, former Head of Agriculture Policy, has been appointed as an independent advisor who will provide guidance and support to both parties in forming partnerships and ensuring succession.
The new land matching service comes as a result of cross-industry working by a Rural Innovation Support Service (RISS) group comprising farmers, the NFUS, the Land Commission, Young Farmers, land agents, Scottish Land and Estates and the National Forestry Estate tenants.
The group put forward a proposal to appoint an ‘honest broker’, as happens in Northern Ireland for example, to carefully match farmers looking to retire with new entrants, or farmers looking to work with others on joint ventures, or landowners looking for new tenants.
Picture: Mr Ewing with Mr Kempton and Mr Young
The broker role, to be fulfilled by Mr Davidson, will be hosted by the NFUS, who already have an online Joint Venture Hub, and will report into the Farming Opportunities for New Entrants Group. The two-year pilot will be funded by the Scottish Government and the Scottish Land Commission.
Stephen Young, who facilitated the RISS group as part of the farmer co-op organisation SAOS, said: “By getting a group of interested parties together through RISS we were able to scope out what was needed for the whole industry and understand the potential barriers before looking to overcome them.
“The new service should provide good quality, and importantly, impartial advice and direction to new entrants and landowners alike. A dedicated service to deliver this will be great for the industry.”
The service aims to help new entrants like Pat and Jess Kimpton who have entered into a five-year joint venture agreement with Robin Young of Waterside Farm, near Dunblane enabling them to fulfil their ambition of running their own farming business.
Under the joint venture agreement, the land continues to be owned by the Young’s while the machinery is owned by the Kimpton’s. Costs, risks, capital investment and profits are shared at an agreed rate between the two parties.
Mr Kimpton said: "We saw this as a great opportunity to get a foot on the ladder and grow our own business. It also helps to share the risk, so we will have more confidence to develop further. Having good quality impartial advice is also essential for that."
Launching the service, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “With current land matching, joint venture and a contract farming agreements administered by a range of parties, the advice available is often ad-hoc and variable in quality. This is why the new service is so important, as it will manage a database of potential service users and then offer them support to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome.”