Starter farms application information

Who can apply?

We are looking for applicants with some agricultural experience, but that currently have no permanent land holding. Applications from existing farm businesses will not be considered. The applicant could however be related to an active farmer but their tenure at this opportunity must not be connected to any other business.

The applicant will need to demonstrate how this opportunity allows the development of a new farming unit. We recognise the value of having built some business capital and experience and therefore it is also feasible that the applicant may undertake existing limited agricultural activity, on short term lets for instance. Where any dubiety over eligibility may occur the onus is on the applicant to justify their eligibility to Forestry Commission Scotland and in all cases the final decision on eligibility will lie with the Assessment Panel.

Interested applicants will submit an application where we will be looking for:

  • Enthusiasm for and knowledge of the agricultural industry, and some awareness of the woodland sector.
  • Willingness to work with the FCS to explore how agriculture and forestry can be more closely integrated on the National Forest Estate.
  • Some agricultural experience, which may include a period of time spent at a further education or agricultural institute.
  • The foresight to identify and exploit new rural or land based enterprises and business opportunities.
  • A sufficient understanding of financial and business management including cash flows, budgets and a rent tender.
  • Evidence of sufficient capital for the venture.
  • A desire to work in a way that promotes equality.

Lease Duration

Applicants have the chance to lease holdings from Forest Enterprise Scotland (who manage the National Forest Estate)under a Limited Duration Tenancy (LDT) agreement. This will generally be for a period of 10 years but may be varied if specific circumstances dictate.

It is intended that successful applicants will gain valuable experience in managing and growing their farm business, enabling them to move on to larger scale operations at the end of their lease period, freeing the unit for further new entrants.

Forestry Commission Scotland recognises that the duration of lease might be dependent upon the type of farming and applicant’s investment proposals.

The selection process and panel

We have a wide range of objectives to consider in the management of Scotland’s National Forest Estate. To select a suitable candidate, we evaluate each application based on a range of factors that demonstrate this broader range of objectives. Applicants are required to complete Forms A and B (available with the applications pack – see below), along with their business plan. These will be scored against an agreed matrix by the panel, and a short list of the best candidates will then be called for an interview.

All applicants will be able to visit the farms on an arranged viewing date prior to the application closing date.

Applications are assessed by a selection panel made up of forestry and agricultural industry representatives. This varies from farm to farm to take account of local knowledge.

How to apply

Application packs for current starter farm opportunities can be obtained by contacting Bell Ingram.