Following today’s meeting of the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee, during which agricultural holdings provisions of the Land Reform (Scotland) Bill were discussed, Scottish Land & Estates issued the following statement.
David Johnstone, chairman of Scottish Land & Estates, said: “The Scottish Government’s declared intention to press ahead with plans to give tenant farmers on secure tenancies the right to assign their tenancies for value is hugely disappointing as it flies in the face of what the vast majority of the farming industry believes is the right way forward. The Scottish Government is blinding itself to the wishes of the industry and the impact on farming.
“The majority of farmers believe that conversion of 1991 Act tenancies rather than assignation is a much better approach and it is breathtaking that the Cabinet Secretary today brushed aside the view of the National Farmers Union of Scotland on the matter. The Cabinet Secretary’s own Review Group also recommended the conversion model.
“It is a great pity that the future of tenant farming is being jeopardised by political point scoring at the expense of agricultural landlords. The reality is that assignation will have a damaging impact on the letting of land in the future but the Scottish Government is prepared to ignore these well-founded fears.
“The Cabinet Secretary made clear, during debate on a conditional right to buy for tenant farmers, that such a measure was outwith the competency of the Scottish Parliament and would breach ECHR yet is willing to run that risk with assignation when a far less risky and constructive option of conversion is available to him and the Scottish Government.”