Scottish Land & Estates urges organisations to work together in post-review period
Scottish Land & Estates, which represents land-based businesses across Scotland, today urged all farming industry bodies to work together constructively in the aftermath of the Scottish Government-led review of agricultural legislation.
David Johnstone, chairman of Scottish Land & Estates, has asked NFUS and the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association to join Scottish Land & Estates in discussions with Andrew Thin, a key member of the Review Group, on how best the sector can operate while legislation is being considered by the Scottish Parliament.
Mr Johnstone said: “We think it would reflect well on the industry if we can get round a table and deal with immediate concerns. Despite recent criticism of landowners, the fact is that - for some time now - we have been urging all organisations to develop their thinking on the successor to the industry rent review panel and the potential to introduce a temporary ombudsman before legislation comes into force. We would like to underline our commitment to addressing this.
“The Review was exhaustive, all important topics were given very detailed consideration and all stakeholders were given their say. As a result, legislation will take its course through parliament. There are, however, measures that the industry can make a start on and - if there is goodwill on all sides - progress can be made. It should not be forgotten that what we should all be trying to achieve is the revitalisation of the sector and creating a sound platform for the next generation of farmers.
“There are recommendations in the Review Group report that we cannot support and will have a serious impact on property rights and, more importantly, the tenant farming sector. We will be making our case on these to Government and parliamentarians at the appropriate time.
“The Scottish Tenant Farmers Association has said that it is concerned that landlords may take evasive action prior to any legislation. The STFA needs to spell out what it means by that and we believe the sector would be better served at this stage by a less adversarial and more evidence-based approach.
“The STFA continues to suggest that there are tenants being treated unfairly by landlords. The Scottish Government’s own survey into landlord-tenant relationships showed the overwhelming majority, around 80%, were satisfactory.
“If it is the case that there are examples where tenants are being treated unfairly we want to root out the problem but the STFA needs to produce evidence of this and we urge them in the strongest possible terms to do that.
“The Review Group carried out a long and inclusive exercise. There is an obligation on all of us to work constructively to find practical ways to improve on what we have today.
“The majority of members of Scottish Land & Estates operate their own farming businesses and are committed to ensuring a vibrant future for tenant farming because letting farms is a core part of their business activity. It will surely help parliamentarians devise legislation in a considered way if the industry is seen to be working together.”