Starter farms frequently asked questions
The following is a list of answers to frequently asked questions about starter farm units in general.
What is a Starter Farm?
It is a farm offered for new entrants to farming on the National Forest Estate (including recent acquisitions). It makes use of land that will not be planted with trees (eg for landscape, environmental, agricultural or community reasons).
Are all starter farms the same?
There is no strict definition as to the size and type of starter farm and this will vary depending on the resources available. The basic remit is to provide a business opportunity to a new entrant. This will typically provide a part time income for the farming family.
Who will be responsible for fencing the proposed new woodland areas?
This will be done at the expense of Forestry and Land Scotland.
What are your views on applicants entering environmental schemes, such as the replacement SRDP?
We would wish to be consulted but in general we will be supportive of such schemes. We would, in particular, be keen to encourage schemes that promote farm/forestry integration.
Why have LDTs been offered?
After consultation with industry organisations throughout the planning process, Forestry and Land Scotland concluded that a limited duration tenancy allowed enough time for new entrants to establish their businesses. Our normal approach is to offer a 10 year lease, current tenants have 10 year LDTs and any future offerings are likely to be 10 year MLDTs.
The leases are for a fixed period, what are the chances of extension if you get the right tenants?
Our policy is to offer Starter Farms for a defined period with the intention that the successful applicants will be able to build their business experience and capital in that period and then move on at the end of the stated period. The process will begin again to help another new entrant. We encourage the successful applicants to consider their exit strategy carefully from day one.
Has soil analysis been undertaken or will one be done at ingoing?
A full analysis of all fields is under taken, at our expense, when the new tenant takes possession. This analysis excludes rough grazing areas. The results are made available to the incoming tenant as soon as they are ready.
What is the position with Unexhausted Manurial Values?
Due to the low soil analysis values and minimal recent Phosphate, Potash and Lime applications we did not charge the incoming tenants for UMV’s. However in order to encourage good practice the tenants will be able to make a UMV claim at the end of their lease.
What is the view on public access?
FLS encourages responsible public access being taken on its land and the tenants will, at the minimum, be required to abide by the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
How can Forestry and Land Scotland be a good landlord for a tenant farmer when its focus is on forestry?
Forestry and Land Scotland (formerly Forestry Commission Scotland) has many decades of experience as a landlord to tenant farmers. We want to show how forestry and agriculture can complement each other in rural Scotland and for that reason we are pro-active in developing a good working relationship with our tenant farmers.
Isn’t this just a token effort by Forestry and Land Scotland to be seen to be giving something back to the agricultural sector?
No. Forestry and Land Scotland believes there is a genuine opportunity here to create unique start up units for new entrants and show how farming and forestry can complement each other and enhance rural Scotland.
How will you demonstrate land use integration at the starter farm?
The application forms invite proposals for the farm tenant to work with us on woodland creation and maintenance. We think these may offer additional income streams to the right tenant but must emphasise that these are not compulsory elements.
Earlier offerings have seen a large number of application packs distributed but a smaller number of applications at the closing date. Does this mean you need to review procedures?
We run a detailed applications process which ensures that potential applicants are given as much information about the farms as possible so that they can be sure of their intentions before committing to the process. Any lettings will generate a large interest. It is part of the purpose of the application process to filter that initial interest.
Will the application process be similar to that on previous farms?
Forestry and Land Scotland will periodically review procedures, learning from the experience of previous offerings. We are generally pleased with the process so far and are content that it provided us with a good range and quality of applicants. Following an early review, for example, we amended the scoring process to ensure there is primary focus on finding the right farming tenant and emphasise that the “working with woodland” elements are optional.
I applied before but wasn’t successful – can I reapply?
Absolutely. Obviously applications will need to be bespoke for each starter farm and marry up to business plans forwarded. It’s a detailed process but one which is designed to ensure that the best candidate is appointed.