THE Scottish Land Commission is commissioning a study looking at the possible options to increasing the availability of farmland for new entrants.

For a thriving farming sector there needs to be new entrants to drive innovation and best practice, improve efficiencies and contribute towards the economic vitality of the sector.

Recent studies have found that one of the biggest issues facing new entrants to Scotland's tenant farming sector is the lack of access to land. This work will look at new alternative ways of increasing the availability of land for those who want to farm in Scotland.

The Tenant Farming Commissioner, Bob McIntosh, is working with NFU Scotland's campaign New Generation, to engage with farmers to discuss the barriers to entry and provide guidance.

Mr McIntosh said: "This is an important body of work which will look at the current options for farmers and landowners for succession and retirement whilst providing business opportunities for new entrants.

"Working with NFUS we plan to hold a series of joint road shows based on the guidance to encourage existing farmers and landowners who, in developing their own business interests, could offer opportunities for new entrants.

"A discussion paper has also been commissioned which will explore ways of stimulating the tenanted sector by the development of different approaches and incentives for the letting of land. This will be published in the new year and will also inform the discussions.

"It is important that this issue is discussed and addressed now to secure the future of a thriving and prosperous tenant farming sector."

Market round-up

United Auctions sold 24 store heifers at Stirling on Wednesday to average 190.9p per kg (-11.8p on the week), while 19 prime, beef-bred bullocks levelled at 189.6p (-26p). Eighteen store, B&W bullocks averaged 131.2p (no change).

C&D Auction Marts Ltd sold 4 prime heifers in Dumfries on Wednesday to a top of 230p and an average of 215p, while a couple of prime bullocks peaked at 211p and levelled at 171p.

In the rough ring 28 beef cows sold to 128p and averaged 106p, while 11 dairy cows peaked at 101p and levelled at 87p.

The firm also sold 785 prime lambs to a top of £101 per head and 213p to average 176p (+1p).

A smaller show of 226 cast sheep saw heavy ewes sell to £117.50 for Texels and average £80, while light/export-type ewes peaked at £74.50 for Cheviots and levelled at £42.89.

Messrs Craig Wilson ltd sold 1400 prime lambs in Newton Stewart on Wednesday to a top of £89 and 209.8p to average 170.2p (-6.8p).