Scottish Land & Estates issued the following statement today following the publication today of the latest figures on Tenanted Agricultural Land in Scotland by Scotland’s Chief Statistician.
Andrew Howard, a Scottish Land & Estates representative on the Tenant Farming Forum, said: “This latest data shows that there is strong demand for agricultural land and underlines the importance of having a thriving tenanted sector in Scotland – an objective our members are wholly committed to achieving.
“While average rents increased by 13% in 2013, the report states that according to the data available to the government, between 1998 and 2008 there was very little change in the overall average rent paid per hectare (and hence a reduction in real terms, once inflation is taken into account) and that since 2009, while there has been an increase in rent, this has generally been in line with inflation. This longer-term view is extremely useful in that it provides important context to the ongoing debates about rents.
“Rents do go up from time to time but we would contend they still remain good value and in the case of rises in LFAs the figure has risen from £8.10 to £9.70 an acre. It should also be borne in mind that the overwhelming majority of rent reviews are agreed between the landlord and tenant.
“The slightly higher increase in rental levels in Less Favoured Areas needs further examination as there are a number of possible factors for this including the relative buoyancy of upland livestock farming in recent times and rent review cycles.
“It is also extremely useful to see better data on seasonal lets. The report states that the total area of rented agricultural land has remained broadly constant in recent years, so while landowners have been criticised on the basis of the declining area of land on formal tenancies, in reality much of this let land has remained available to the let sector. What the figures do show is the turn to short-term arrangements and Scottish Land & Estates agrees with the rest of the industry that such short-termism is not in the interests of the industry as a whole. We are very keen to work as constructively as possible with the Agricultural Holdings Review Group to find ways of reversing this trend and finding ways of boosting land owner confidence to let under longer-term arrangements.”