Members of Scottish Land & Estates will have been appalled and alarmed by the recent so-called debate on the absolute right to buy for tenant farmers.
This debate has been conducted largely through the pages of the Scottish Farmer with interventions from other agricultural journalists. What has been particularly depressing reading is the fact that the people fuelling calls for the absolute right to buy - clearly a small minority - appear to have been struck by collective amnesia. Have they all really forgotten the damage done to Scottish farming in 2002 when calls for the ARTB were at their height? What happened was a collapse in confidence to let land...confidence that is still in the process of being rebuilt. Sadly, there are those who do not seem to care if the tenant farm sector is paralysed once again...as long as they can trumpet their politically-driven views. All of us involved in agriculture know full well that anyone who truly has the interests of the tenant farming sector at heart would not champion a measure that is guaranteed to have such a destructive influence.
Many Scottish Land & Estates members are also members of the National Farmers' Union Scotland and would applaud President Nigel Miller's measured and constructive approach in recent letters and statements in how best we can achieve and sustain a vibrant tenanted sector. That is what most people in farming want to see - a tenanted sector where farmers get the chance to grow their businesses. Landlords, too, want to see that as they are in the business of letting land.
Scottish Land & Estates is one of the principal organisations in the Tenant Farming Forum, which we believe is the right vehicle to tackle tenant farming on a collaborative basis. We have not intervened at every turn when yet another letter is published in the Scottish Farmer. Our position, on behalf of our members, has been made repeatedly clear to Government, and the other organisations within the TFF - the siren calls by advocates for the ARTB can only damage the very industry they profess to support.
We will continue to make our position clear and we believe it is has widespread support throughout the farming sector.