From Farmers Weekly yesterday:
‘Fifty new part-time starter farms are to be made available to new entrants in Scotland. The Scottish government has announced more than 1,000ha of public land will be let out as part of its programme to support young people who want to get into farming.’
In the same report, Rural affairs secretary Fergus Ewing said:
‘With the average age of Scottish farmers at 58 years, attracting new entrants to farming is vital for the long-term sustainability of the industry. New entrants drive innovation and best practice, improve efficiencies and contribute towards the overall economic vitality of the sector.’
Although we know that Scotland has a massive trade surplus in food and drink with the EU and with rUK, this seems a wise move, to further strengthen the sector, as the possibility of a hard Brexit remains strong. See this worrying assessment from the Institute for Fiscal Studies:
‘If the UK and the post-Brexit EU fail to strike a free trade deal, it is likely tariffs would be imposed on EU imports into the UK, as the UK would be unable to impose zero tariffs on imports from the EU without also extending tariff-free access to all other WTO members. This would raise the price of food imported from the EU, which is the major source of food imports into the UK, accounting for 70% of gross food imports. Therefore, if the UK did not strike a free trade deal with the EU, food prices would be likely to rise significantly.’
I’d be happy enough to subsist on a diet of cheap locally-produced salmon, beef, potatoes, vegetables and whisky.