We are really pleased to have been involved in the early stages of the Scottish Land Matching Service through our partnership with the Rural Innovation Support Service (RISS).
Stephen Young, formerly a Project Manager with SAOS facilitated the initial RISS group and the new land matching service comes as a result of further cross-industry working with farmers, the NFUS, the Land Commission, Young Farmers, land agents, Scottish Land and Estates and the National Forestry Estate tenants.
Through his work with the group, Stephen commented that
“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 group concluded that the service would work best if an ‘honest broker’ was appointed, 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.
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 service 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.
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.”