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Young farmer given career boost with Aberdeenshire farming tenancy

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A 21-year-old award-winning agricultural graduate has been given the tenancy of a 2,340-acre hill farm in Aberdeenshire in a positive move which will offer hope to many young farmers throughout Scotland.

At a time when it is difficult for young people to get started in farming, Ian Christie, from Alford in Aberdeenshire, fought off 15 other applicants for the tenancy of Ballaterach Farm, initially on a five-year Short Limited Duration Tenancy, on the Inchmarnoch Estate near Ballater.

Mr Christie, who has recently graduated from the Scottish Agricultural College at Craibstone, and his wife, Rachel still studying at Craibstone, have now moved in.

Mr Christie, who used his student loan to buy lambs has spent four years building up a breeding ewe flock and last year won the Agriscot 2010 Business Skills Award organised by the SAC for which he had to produce a detailed farming business plan.

Ralph Peters, estate factor and a partner in Strutt & Parkers Banchory office, said: We had 15 good applications but Ians was very strong and the landlord was keen to give a young farmer an opportunity. Ian comes from a farming background, came across very well in interviews and his business plan, while ambitious, is plausible. The owners were struck by his enthusiasm and, subject to conditions, were delighted to award him the lease and give him this brilliant opportunity.

Although the government has pledged support for young farmers it is still very hard for them to get started in Scotland and there are seldom opportunities. Farms rarely become available and when they do it is often already established farmers who are able to put forward the most competitive tenders. Additionally, a 21-year-old tenant can raise a lot of concerns from a landlords perspective. Can they farm it properly and pay the rent? There is often little experience or capital behind them to support their application and landowners tend to therefore see young applicants as a risk.

However, it is obvious that young farmers must be given tenancy opportunities whenever possible in order to keep the industry going in the future. It is never easy being a farmer, and a young farmer in particular, but here is a landlord working with the existing legislation and willing to give a young farmer a brilliant opportunity.

Mr Christie has been given a five-year Short Limited Duration Tenancy which could then be extended and converted into a Limited Duration Tenancy.

Clare Carson, the owner of Ballaterach Farm, said: I was pleased to receive as much interest as I did in the farm tenancy and am thrilled to have received such a strong application from Ian. He is a very enthusiastic young farmer and I am delighted to be able to give him the opportunity to develop a farm business and wish him every success with it.

Mr Christie said: I am very grateful to Mrs Carson for giving Rachel and me this fantastic opportunity. I hope that the example set by me will encourage other ambitious young farmers and persuade them that it is possible to get a start in farming through the tenanted sector. I have received a great deal of help in getting started from the SAC at Craibstone as well as my father and others who taught me the skills of stockmanship and helped source some of the quality breeding stock I now have at Ballaterach.


Strutt & Parker is one of the largest and most successful independent property partnerships in the UK with a network of offices throughout England and Scotland. Established in 1885, the business provides professional support on all matters relating to land and property – whether offices or farms, country houses or business parks, leisure centres or shooting rights, new home construction or international real estate. With a dedicated, forward-thinking team offering expert knowledge and sound, professional advice, Strutt & Parker can ensure that businesses, farmers, landowners, house-buyers and international investors can make their assets perform to their best ability. To see what else the business has to offer, visit our website at


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