ASPIRING new entrants to Scottish agriculture, who have the desire to farm but no land upon which to do it, can now access a match-maker service that will introduce them to older farmers with land to spare.

The Scottish Land Matching Service, launched this week by the Scottish Government – and 'hosted' by the National Farmers Union Scotland – has a remit to initiate discussions between new entrants and landowners, and then provide 'unbiased guidance and support' to both parties as they seek to come to terms.

Joint venture agreements between unrelated youngsters and elders, often struck in the absence of farm succession within a farming family, are becoming more common, but are still comparatively new territory, prompting ScotGov and the NFUS to lay out what they hope will be a clear pathway to the creation of such relationships, and help unite business vigour with land assets to the benefit of the whole industry.

Scottish Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “With current land matching, joint venture and contract farming agreements administered by a range of parties, the advice available is often ad-hoc and variable in quality. That is why this 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."

NFUS head of policy team, Gemma Cooper, said: “NFUS is delighted to host the new service, which will build on the excellent work undertaken by those within the union who had the vision to set up our joint venture hub.

“We believe that the service will play a pivotal role in helping to address some of the issues that exist currently in relation to arrangements for accessing land. The link to the Farming Opportunities for New Entrants Group will provide an important link to future policy and NFUS looks forward to being at the forefront of this.”

ScotGov veteran Ian Davidson, a former Head of Agriculture Policy deeply involved in both the Scottish Rural Development Programme and CAP Pillar 1, alongside Agricultural Holdings legislation, climate change and crofting, is to be an independent adviser to the service.

To launch the matchmaking initiative, its various architects visited new entrants Pat and Jess Kimpton, who have entered into a five year joint venture agreement with Robin Young of Waterside Farm, near Dunblane.

Mr Kimpton said: “We saw this as a great opportunity to get a foot on the ladder and grow our own business. It also helps to share the risk, so we will have more confidence to develop further. Having good quality impartial advice is also essential for that.”

Waterside is a 125ha dairy farm, which has been owned by the Youngs since 1997. Under their five year joint venture agreement with the Kimptons, the land continues to be owned by the Youngs, the machinery is owned by the Kimptons, and the costs, risks, capital investment and profits are shared at an agreed rate between the two parties.

Mr Young commented: “The formation of a joint venture has given us confidence to invest in our business as well as enabling a young couple the opportunity to develop and grow their own business in tandem.

“A land matching service would have been hugely beneficial to us when we started this process and hopefully it will open up opportunities to others and help highlight the benefits of collaborative working,” he added.