Scotland’s Farming – The Next Generation

Drive through our countryside and you’ll most likely be driving through farm land: on Scot Gov stats, agriculture accounts for over 70% of all Scotland’s land area … from grassland and grazing for the rearing of livestock to land used for crops, woodland and aquaculture.

At the forefront of our farming industry is a group of young farmers – the National Farmer’s Union of Scotland’s (NFUS) Next Generation. They’re helping to shape the future of Scotland’s farming and crofting. In some businesses, the ‘future’ entails forecasting the next year or two. In farming, the NextGen group are tasked with looking more than a decade down the line.

Here, two of the group tell us a little about themselves and their passion for farming and crofting in Scotland … even more apt as we are in Scotland’s Year of Young People.


Jen Craig (below left)

I was brought up on the family hill farm in South Lanarkshire and from a very early age I started following dad around the farm and decided that I wanted to be just like him when I grew up.

I went to Agricultural College and then came back to farm. We’re currently putting together a plan for the farm of things we want to do/achieve in the next ten years and beyond. Not only just the livestock but we want to expand on the environmental benefits that we already deliver. Every farmer wants to leave the land in a better state than they got it for the next generations.

It’s a well said saying that farming isn’t just a job it’s a way of life, and I can safely say I’m addicted to the way of life. It isn’t always easy but being up at sunrise out on the hill, with your trusty dog and you see a freshly lambed ewe doing her job and getting her lamb up on its feet. Those sights make it all worthwhile.

I love the agriculture industry as a whole and aside from farming full time I’m involved in various organisations in the hope that I can help map out a successful future for agriculture and for future generations to come.



Matthew Steel (above right)

Matthew Steel farms at Craignathro Farm, Forfar in Scotland with 1050 arable acres including seed and ware potatoes; stock; poultry and renewables.

Over the last couple of months, our new poultry enterprise is what has been keeping me busy. It is a 32,000 bird free range egg laying unit which represents the culmination of a year of building and a year of planning with lots of hard work, in fact I’ll take this opportunity to thank all those who have made it possible. This venture is a return to my family’s roots as both my parents and grandparents kept poultry for many years.  Back then though, they sold all their produce directly to the public in the local area; a big change to nowadays when there is often a disconnect with the general public as to where their food comes from.

Farming can be a tough life and one thing I am aware of is not putting all my eggs in one basket – excuse the pun! I would like to have as big a production mix as is practically and logistically possible to manage on the farm so that we are not as vulnerable to the peaks and troughs of any one market.

I am also a committee member of NFU Scotland’s Next Generation Working Group and this has allowed me to meet so many other enthusiastic and passionate people that you can only feel optimistic about the future for those involved in agriculture in Scotland.


Like to discover more about the group?

Please contact Policy Manager Jenny Brunton at or call 0131 472 4000