Following comments today by Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs at the NFUS AGM, Scottish Land & Estates Chairman Luke Borwick commented:
“Our members, Scotland’s landowners, are running rural businesses which contribute significantly to the local rural economy and to Scotland as a whole, as indeed we heard from the Cabinet Secretary today. As such, their decisions and actions need to be based on business principles and needs. The vast majority of landowners enjoy very close and productive working relationships with their farm tenants and lease their land wherever possible and practical, in line with good business practice and proper legal procedure.
“Focusing on comments by the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs - suggesting that there is a moral duty to let land is just not helpful and we would prefer instead to focus on the many other positive aspects of Richard Lochhead’s presentation today. The clear message that came through is that the way forward, for those who want to see a vibrant and healthy tenanted sector, is to continue to work in partnership. This can be achieved through the Tenant Farming Forum, with a tight remit and clear aims, outlined by the Scottish Government, to improve how the current system works without resort to further legislation. We support the NFUS tenancy roadmap approach as laid out by Nigel Miller during their AGM and indeed we have discussed this with them and the STFA previously.
“Rural jobs and fragile economies often depend on successful working relationships between tenant and landowner. We all share a common desire and purpose to encourage new entrants into the rural sector and landowners take their moral obligations very seriously indeed, however there is a need to separate emotive desire from rational business need in order to strengthen confidence within the sector and ensure a long lasting future for all involved.”