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Recent UK studies highlight some of the challenges of adjustment facing the farming industry; an ageing farming population, a common absence of successor, and economic barriers combining to deter new entrants to the industry. Yet the future of farming is dependent on continued entry by new farm operators, either through the family farm business, new entrants from other sectors or via the ‘agricultural ladder’ i.e. from a farm worker to tenant to owner operator. Evidence suggests that new entrants in each situation encounter difficulties, some generic and some specific to individual cases. What is unclear is the role and influence of a range of policies on new entrant decisions. At a time when the farming industry is under pressure to compete and adjustment becomes increasingly urgent, the influential (direct or indirect) role of policy becomes more pertinent. This paper will review the current entry/exit situation in Scotland and, drawing upon recent research, highlight the main barriers affecting new entrants. The role and influence of various policies on new entrant decisions will be discussed. The paper concludes with a debate as to whether the issues raised warrant further intervention.


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