WWOOF UK director, Nim Kibbler is based in Scotland and recently sent us this very useful update about funding for crofters and smallholders.
On a windy Saturday in September I helped to staff a WWOOF UK info stall at the Scottish Smallholders Festival in Lanark, which is a nice wee agricultural show serving the central belt well. I popped along to a talk by SRUC (formerly Scottish Agricultural College/consulting etc.) and listened to their thirty minute talk about funding opportunities for crofters and smallholders and am now happy to share the details with WWOOF hosts in case it proves useful.
The Scottish government has made grants available for anyone managing land of three to thirty hectares – here’s a brief summary of what’s available with info for further browsing.
The grant will pay for capital work, not running costs. It will rarely be permitted for the purchase of livestock or processing of goods. Common purchases are buildings, hard-stands and handling pens but they do have to be shiny and new!
Qualifying for it may involve joining the EU farming subsidy scheme (which could be a whole other article of explanation and ethics). Pillar 1 of this is what is considered the normal subsidy part but Pillar 2 includes development funding with the aim to enhance the rural economy, etc. The small farmers grants are managed by Rural Payments and Inspection Department (RPID).
Grants could provide up to £25,000 for an individual and £125,000 for a formal group, the percentage of the work that the grant will fund depends on the land you manage and your age. Currently, younger land managers (less than 41 years old) can be supported by 80-90% grant funding. It is also based on the income derived from the land via primary cultivation/rearing.
Additionally, there is the New Entrants grant which is made up of three grant streams; young farmers, those who’ve begun in the last twelve months and capital grants for new businesses (which is really just the small farmer grant again). There are again restrictions, the main being a minimum requirement of three hectares and a maximum income derived from primary cultivation/rearing of £500-840 depending on size of land managed. This grant does require you to have a business plan but unlike the capital grant it can be spent on things such as livestock, machinery etc.
You do not need to own your land but you do need to be able to show that you have a considerable tenancy period, normally of over 3 years.
You’ll likely be familiar with CAGS. Whether you’re a croft tenant or subtenant there’s funding available and unlike smallholders there’s been funding about for some time. Funding is also available for common grazing committees as long as you’re ‘formally’ recognised as such. Grants of £25k are available for both groups and individuals but require match funding, so it’s not as simple as a straightforward grant. There is also funding of £500 to help establish grazing groups plus the crofting house scheme.
Crofters are well supported by Scottish Crofting Federation who will be able to assist members with understanding grant availability and appropriateness.
For small farmers and smallholders there is the newly launched one-stop-shop for advice Scotland’s Farm advisory service and they’ve a special page for small land managers. SRUC present this information in the hope they’ll get consultancy work but it is entirely possible to manage grant applications yourself. It’s always worthwhile exploring as a grant could cover part of the cost of work you’re intending to complete.
photos: Matthew Moodie