We are fast approaching yet another crossroads for Scottish agriculture.
The impact of CAP reform will be felt acutely across the industry and will change the landscape for generations to come.
While CAP reform looms large, we are also facing within a few weeks the final report from the Agricultural Holdings Legislation Review Group.
Indications thus far are that the recommendations of the review group will have far reaching implications for the tenanted sector once embedded in legislation.
It is therefore a time when everyone involved in agriculture will be considering their position and their future prospects very carefully. It is also a time when everyone should be ready to explore new ways of working through collaboration and partnership.
With that in mind, Scottish Land & Estates has launched ‘Helping it Happen’ - a campaign to highlight how landowners on estates and farms across Scotland can play a key role in delivering benefit to rural Scotland.
The campaign is being launched to demonstrate that landowners and estates are committed to supporting local communities and businesses across a range of sectors including tourism and leisure, food and drink, energy, agriculture, housing and the environment.
Nowhere is that more important than in agriculture where opportunities exist for tenants and landlords to plan together for a sustainable future. .
There are already many examples of where landowners are working constructively with tenants to improve their businesses., Helping it Happen is not designed to merely showcase what is being achieved but to signal that much can be realised in the future by people working together towards common goals.
It would be wrong to suggest that all is rosy in the garden. However, it would be equally inaccurate to suggest that the whole system is broken.
Recent Scottish Government surveys of landlords, tenants and owner-occupiers show that the majority of tenants and landlords enjoy positive relationships.
There have also been encouraging signs when representative organisations such as ourselves, NFUS and the Scottish Tenant Farming Association pull in the same direction. The willingness to work together to create an interim rent review panel to 'sense check' contentious reviews and the proposal to have an amnesty on the registration of tenant improvements are cases in point.
Helping it Happen will demonstrate that landlords can help deliver real rural success stories. At Dunecht we have been investing significant sums in modern buildings, supporting tenants who want to diversify and facilitating the expansion of forward thinking farming businesses.
Big changes will be coming in agriculture and the answers to many of the challenges ahead will be more readily found if all involved in farming approach the future in a more constructive and less adversarial way. It’s time to move away from the all-too polarised debate that has surrounded the future of the let sector.
Article by Stuart Young, Dunecht Estates as published in Press & Journal on Saturday 22 November 2014.