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Last Updated: Monday, 1 October 2007, 15:57 GMT 16:57 UK
Farmer picks up his land for 1
John Kerr
John Kerr won the rights to his farm for just 1-a-year
A farm worker from south west Scotland has won his own land - for an annual payment of just 1.

John Kerr, 23, secured the tenancy of Newen Farm, at Borgue, in Dumfries and Galloway, in a competition to encourage younger people into the industry.

Little Cumbrae Estate Ltd offered the land near Kirkcudbright through the pages of the Scottish Farmer.

Mr Kerr was voted the winner by a panel of industry experts and picked up the tenancy for a period of five years.

The competition was launched in the spring when potential tenants filled in a form with a series of agricultural questions.

Judges then narrowed the field down to 30 who visited the farm and talked through their ideas for the land.

Finally, a shortlist of just five was subjected to more detailed interviews by the selection panel.

Low financial returns from farming over several years have seen a drain of talent away from agriculture
Simon Brown
CKD Galbraith

The young farm worker from the Stewartry district emerged as a unanimous winner and was described as an "exceptional young man" by judges.

He admitted that there was no way he could have gone into the business without his bargain offer.

"It's a once in a lifetime opportunity for me," he said.

"For someone in my position, this is a dream come true, especially the way farming is at the moment, with so much capital tied up in it.

"Anything which can reduce the amount of borrowing that I have to make will help enormously, especially with the way that interest rates are going."

Mr Kerr will take control of the 65-hectare site on a five-year tenancy for 1-a-year.

Under normal circumstances the land would have cost him about 18,000 times that price.

Pound coin
150g box of mint chocolates
200ml shower gel
10-pack of tissues
One blank video tape
Four pairs of boys' cotton socks
100 plastic party cups
One music download

The competition organisers were keen to look at ways of bringing younger people into farming.

"For several years, we heard much talk from all sides of the farming debate about developing ways of attracting new entrants to farming," said Simon Brown of CKD Galbraith, acting for Little Cumbrae Estate Ltd.

He said the average age in the industry was now more than 58 and action had to be taken to address that situation.

"Low financial returns from farming over several years have seen a drain of talent away from agriculture," he said.

"All sectors of the industry are suffering the consequences of a shortage of skilled labour and a rising age profile.

"We have been delighted to play a part in this initiative that will see someone getting a foothold in agriculture."

Subject to legal confirmation Mr Kerr will begin his new tenancy on 28 November.

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