Starter farms FAQ
The following is a list of answers to frequently asked questions about starter farm units in general.
Q. What is a Starter Farm?
A. 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).
Q. Are all starter farms the same?
A. Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) has 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.
Q. Who will be responsible for fencing the proposed new woodland areas?
A. This will be done at the expense of FCS.
Q. What are your views on applicants entering environmental schemes, such as the replacement SRDP?
A. 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.
Q. Why are LDTs being offered?
A. After consultation with industry organisations throughout the planning process, FCS concluded that a limited duration tenancies allowed enough time for new entrants to establish their businesses. Our normal approach is to offer a 10 year lease
Q. The leases are for a fixed period, what are the chances of extension if you get the right tenants.
A. 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!
Q. Has soil analysis been undertaken or will one be done at ingoing?
A. This has not been done to date but a full analysis of all fields will be under taken, at our expense, when the new tenant takes possession. This analysis will exclude rough grazing areas. The results will be made available to the incoming tenants was soon as they are ready.
Q. What is the position with Unexhausted Manurial Values.
A. Due to the low soil analysis values and minimal recent Phosphate, Potash and Lime applications the FCS do not intend to charge the incoming tenants for UMV’s. However in order to encourage good practice the tenant will be able to make a UMV claim at the end of their lease.
Q. What is the FCS view on public access?
A. FCS 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.
Q. How can FCS be a good landlord for a tenant farmer when its focus is on forestry?
A. FCS 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 and working partnership with our tenant farmers.
Q. Isn’t this just a token effort by the Commission to be seen to be giving something back to the agricultural sector?
A. No. FCS believes there is a genuine opportunity here to create unique start up units for new entrants and show how farming and forestry can complement and enhance rural Scotland.
Q. How will you demonstrate land use integration at the starter farm?
A. The application guidance documents 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.
Q. Why is Bell Ingram involved?
A. Bell Ingram are acting as land agents on behalf of FCS to assist with the administration of the application process.
Q. 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 were given as much information about the farms as possible so that they could 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.
Q. Will the application process be similar to that on previous farms?
A. FCS always reviews procedures following the previous offerings. We are generally pleased with the process and are content that it provided us with a good range and quality of applicant. Following review, for example, we have amended the scoring process to ensure the focus on finding the farming tenant and emphasise that the “working with woodland” elements are optional.
Q. I applied before but wasn’t successful – can I reapply?
A. 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.