The barriers faced by those looking to enter into farming are well documented, whether that is access to finance, scarcity of opportunities or an absence of a proven business track record for those looking to take on tenancy agreements. Defra and ministers have been eager to take the opportunity presented by the agricultural transition, to create a new scheme to address this issue in England.
The launch of the new entrants pilot scheme this month is the first step towards a full scheme. The main focus of the pilot is to encourage the development of early stage business ideas. This will be done by support, which is being offered by four pilot leads; Harper Adams university, the School for Social Entrepreneurs, the Landworkers’ Alliance and Shared Assets. Defra hopes to recruit around 200 participants into the pilot, with a mixture of participants with varying degrees of experience. The pilot is not just intended to support those with an interest in establishing purely agricultural businesses, but also those interested in developing ideas for horticultural and environmental service businesses.
At this stage, the geographical coverage is limited to the areas covered by the four providers and includes the south west, west Yorkshire, the south east, the north east and the west midlands. As well as providing support to those that would operate in a rural environment, the pilot leads are also seeking ideas from those that would run their businesses in peri urban environments.
The pilot will run from early December until spring 2023. Each of the four providers have their own deadlines for getting in contact, with some being as early as 18 December, so those interested should act now. More details on the pilot and the pilot leads are available on the Defra blog.