LACK OF access to both land and finance are “seriously handicapping” the future of crofting, the Scottish Crofting Federation has warned.
Responding to the conclusions of the Royal Bank of Scotland’s report ‘Harvesting the Future for Young Farmers’, young crofter Donald MacKinnon, a director of the SCF, said that youngsters in his sector faced the same challenge raising sufficient cash to buy a viable amount of land.
“It is very good that RBS have carried out such a large survey and produced a report highlighting how difficult it is for young farmers to get hold of land or finance,” said Mr MacKinnon. “It is the same in crofting, with young folk who wish to croft being kept out by existing unworked crofts being sat on, potential land for new crofts not being identified and borrowing money on croft land being almost impossible.
“We can identify with the claim that most Scottish farms are too big and so completely out of the price range of new entrants. Dividing some of the larger farms into smaller units, creating small farms and crofts, is a sure route to getting more people on to the land,” he suggested.
“The availability of finance, not only financial support in the form of grants and schemes, but also business loans, is crucial. Crofters have always had great difficulty in getting loans, mainly due to the crofts being under their own legislation that seems to put banks off. Perhaps RBS can help with this?” 
He concluded: “The head of agriculture at the RBS, Ian Burrow, is calling for a summit involving industry, governments and the banking sector. The SCF Young Crofters would very much like to be involved with this. Crofting has an essential role in Scottish agriculture and young crofters and young farmers are the future.”