Scottish Government this week released the latest statistics on agricultural tenancies.
Douglas McAdam, Chief Executive of Scottish Land & Estates, said: “The statistics underline a number of important facts. Rents appear 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 reductions in rent. 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 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 be beneficial to the sector. These 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.”
The 2012 June agricultural census and November tenanted land survey show:
- About a quarter of agricultural land is rented under a tenancy of at least one year. This equates to about one sixth of the entire area of Scotland.
- There are about 16,500 holdings with tenancies, though excluding crofts there are about 6,700.
- The total area of rented land, and the number of holdings including rented land, have been falling steadily during the entire period covered by this publication.
- Excluding crofts, four fifths of tenant-farms have a 91 Act secure tenancy.
- According to Crofting Commission data there were 13,337 tenanted crofts.
- Rents in the North West, particularly Eileanan An Iar and Shetland, were generally the lowest, with the South West the next lowest. The South East, in particular Fife, had the highest rents. However in most areas there was a broad spread of rents paid per hectare.
- Farms in Less Favoured Areas (LFA) generally had, unsurprisingly, lower rents than those in other areas, though there were many in the more profitable LFA sectors who had higher rents than some in the less profitable non-LFA sectors. Some of these findings were however based on small samples.
- Crofts and Small Landholders Act tenancies had considerably lower rents than other types of tenancy, with the latter all having a broadly similar range of values.
- Between 1998 and 2008 there was little change in the average rent (and hence a reduction in real terms). The average rent then increased by 15 per cent between 2008 and 2011.
Increases in rent in 2012 were reported in five per cent of cases. However for those reporting a 2012 rent review, a few reported a reduction but some reported a more than doubling of the rent.
To access the statistics go here: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2013/06/2849/0