Scottish Land & Estates today (Wednesday June 13) published the results of a survey of large estates in Scotland which play a key role in the letting of farm tenancies.
The survey of 20 major estates, which let more than 650 tenancies, showed:
- 70% of the farmland on these estates is let on recognised agricultural tenancies.
- The remainder is either farmed on a contract basis or in-hand.
- 94% of the farmland is either let, farmed in hand or under contract – only 6% is let on seasonal grazing.
- The majority of tenancies are secure 1991 Act tenancies.
- More than 70% of agreements are for 10 years or more.
- 63% of Limited Duration Tenancies are fully equipped.
- Landowners and tenants are using appropriate vehicles – LDTs for equipped farms, SLDTs for bare land.
Andrew Howard is a Scottish Land & Estates Board Member. He represents the organisation on the Tenant Farming Forum (TFF) and also chairs the internal Agricultural Holdings Group. Andrew commented:
“This survey is a snapshot of what is happening on larger estates. The results show clearly that these landowners are not ‘sitting’ on land that should be let on the market as some commentators have suggested. Rather land is either being let on formal tenancies or farmed in-hand or under contract, all of which are solid business vehicles.
“If the political imperative is to see more land being let, we must ask the question where is that land going to come from? The figures above clearly demonstrate that the majority of land which can be let by the large estates is indeed being let.
“There is definitely a need to create more ‘churn’ in the sector so that older farmers can retire; the survey shows there are an alarming number of tenancies where no successor is in place.
“It also confirms there is little doubt that both landowners and tenants are waiting to see the outcome of CAP reform.
“As a final observation, the debate on agricultural holdings has become extremely political in Scotland and continuing demands for revision of legislation do nothing to encourage greater flexibility and risk taking. We end up with an often polarised debate when the energy should actually be focused on creating a more vibrant tenanted sector.
“Scottish Land & Estates has been highlighting the need for robust data to inform discussions on tenancy issues for some time; we have also called upon the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment Richard Lochhead to help us secure the evidence required for meaningful discussions. As such we were delighted to hear his comments regarding the need for more and better data during stage 3 of the Agricultural Holdings Bill debate. We hope that the survey can support this and play some part in fuelling the progressive discussions which are taking place.”
To view a full briefing on the survey results please click on the attachment below.