There has been much discussion and debate about the need to attract and encourage new entrants to Scottish farming. As in any sector, they drive innovation and best practice, improve efficiencies, contribute towards the economic vitality of the sector and generally are recognised to be vital for the future of the industry.
It is often alluded to that the structure of farming creates significant challenges for new entrants as farming businesses are overwhelmingly small or micro businesses, mostly family owned and run and generally operating as sole traders or partnerships.
Many commentators have noted that there will, therefore, often be more than one generation working on family farms. Whilst it is often the head of the family business (and key decision maker) who completes the official paper work, the younger generation may be responsible for the day-to-day operational tasks on the farm.
This can, therefore, suggest that the active farming population is actually older than the reality, with the younger generation actively farming (often as minor business partners) but not represented in official statistics.
But the reality is that the number of farm occupiers that are 40 years old and younger has dropped to around 9% and the number 65 years old and over has risen to over a third. As this trend shows no sign of reversing, the Scottish Government is determined to encourage a new younger generation by lowering capital and land barriers, supported by a first-class skills, knowledge and training package.