A pioneering service designed to bring landowners together with individuals looking for land has been launched.
The Fresh Start Land Enterprise Centre has developed a Land Partnership Service to generate new business opportunities by pairing individuals looking for ways to develop an existing or new farm business enterprise with land owners, business owners or land agents with an opportunity or land to offer.
Research carried out by the CLA and the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs highlighted a demand for a ‘matching’ service, which brings together those looking for land or somewhere to start a land-based business with landowners willing to facilitate them.
A national industry advisory group has enabled the creation of the pilot service, which manages a bespoke software system to match a land entrepreneur with a landowner.
The initiative will operate across England and is funded by The Prince’s Countryside Fund and The Frank Parkinson Agricultural Trust.
Alison Rickett, managing director of FSLEC, said interest in the service is growing already and anticipates it will expand from its initial pilot.
She said: "We are so pleased to be able to offer this service at last to the farming and growing community within England.
“It is a really positive move to help generate new businesses. It provides the landowner with new ways to diversify their operation and allows land entrepreneurs the chance to apply and develop their business skills without the prohibitive cost of land purchase.”
“We are confident this exciting initiative will enable new businesses to thrive with new agreements forged between like-minded individuals who require a means of tracking down the right business partner.”
The service is based on five key principles which includes the business proposal, finding a correct match, creating a balanced agreement, selecting a legal framework and facilitating long-term discussion.
Support will also be given after the initial stages of introduction between parties and a range of additional information and training will also be on offer for those interested.
John Henderson, who who has two share farming agreements in place on his family estate near Skipton, says: "Having been involved in share farming for more than 30 years I am thrilled at the launch of this service and hope that it will encourage all sectors of the industry to appreciate the flexibility of such arrangements; it is this flexibility that is so important in creating opportunities for pooling the brains and enthusiasm of the younger generations with the experience and capital of the older brigade."
CLA Director of Policy and Advice Christopher Price said: "The CLA has faced a significant increase in demand from our members for a matching service since we launched guidance on share farming in 2014.
"Many landowners are interested in new business structures to meet changing needs so the Land Partnerships Service is the ideal one-stop-shop to link them together with thousands of new entrants desperate to get a foot on the ladder and to help tackle the issues of an ageing industry profile.”
Registration of interest and further details can be found on Fresh Start’s website www.freshstartlandenterprise.org.uk and the Land Partnerships Service is now live.
Fresh Start is also appealing for landowners, active farmers wishing to diversify without having to run several businesses at once, estate owners or managers and land owning trusts to support the initiative and facilitate use of their land.
Created in response to the need to combine knowledge and resources and to provide business information and support for entrepreneurs and established businesses in the land based sector.
It brings together the expertise through a team of people with many years of experience to help new and established land based businesses.
Issues such as land agreements, joint ventures, succession and mentoring alongside a wide selection of businesses skills are part of their daily work.
The services are open to anyone 18 or over with no upper age limit.
More information on Fresh Start can be found at www.freshstartlandenterprise.org.uk
Members of the national industry advisory group were drawn from across the agricultural industry including professionals and farmers, to give advice and input throughout the pilot development process.
This ensures balanced representation from those directly involved and effective delivery of the service.