Responding to agricultural statistics published today (Wednesday), Douglas McAdam, Chief Executive of Scottish Land & Estates, said:
“The figures published today by the Scottish Government highlight the importance of farming in Scotland to the economy. It is a mixed picture and while overall farm incomes have dropped – reflecting the weather we have encountered in recent years – it is encouraging to note that some farms such as cattle and sheep, dairy and mixed farms have reported the highest level of income for many years.
“The vast majority of farmed land in Scotland is owner-occupied. However, in terms of tenant farming, the statistics underline a number of important facts. Rents are generally very good value and rent rises have appeared in recent years following a decade of decline. Increases in rent in 2012 were reported in five per cent of cases and while some of these saw significant increases others also saw rents reduce. The overall picture regarding rents is complex but these statistics clearly challenge the assertion sometimes made that landowners have been universally ramping up rents unjustly.
“Around 80% of tenant farms have a 1991 Act secure tenancy which provides tenants with absolute security of tenure which critics of the tenant farm sector need to bear in mind. In our view, the decline in availability of rented land is due primarily due to the sale of farm land to farmers over a long period and the reduction of the overall extent of estate land holdings.
“These figures do point to some issues that Scottish Land & Estates would like to address such as ensuring regular contact and review between landlord and tenant which can only beneficial to the sector. The statistics are really useful. We have been calling for better data for a long time and this will be helpful in informing the debate on agriculture.”