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    Tenant Farmers Association Speaks Up For County Farms
11/01/07

The Tenant Farmers Association has again championed the case for the retention of County Council smallholding estates, this time in an appearance before Somerset County Council’s Scrutiny Committee.

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The TFA’s Chief Executive, George Dunn appeared at the Scrutiny Committee alongside the local representative of Somerset County Council farm tenants, David Crab.

“I was pleased to have the opportunity of addressing the members of the Scrutiny Committee of the County Council directly. This is not a privilege often afforded to us when local authorities are reviewing their County Council smallholdings. I took time to stress both the national and local importance of the county farms estates recognised by Sir Don Curry’s Policy Commission, Defra Ministers and the Tenancy Reform Industry Group” said Mr Dunn.

Although county farms are an important financial asset in the hands of local authorities, they also assist local authorities in meeting other policy goals. These include environmental protection and enhancement, the establishment and promotion of local food links, the encouragement of economic development, provision of public access to the countryside and for education.

“As we are about to embark upon the national Year of Food and Farming in the education sector, the TFA would encourage all local authorities with smallholding estates to consider how they could use those estates to enhance the education experience for children within their counties” said Mr Dunn.

“Good management of estates can yield significant financial benefits. Gloucestershire County Council, for example, has been able to raise some £20 million over the past ten years from careful, planned and patient disposals of small parcels of land and yet has retained a similar size estate over the same period. This is something which all local authorities should look to replicate” said Mr Dunn.

“Other areas to investigate include how local authorities can cooperate in the management of estates to provide economies of scale and greater opportunities for progression over combined estates. This is something which I am sure that at least Somerset will be considering” said Mr Dunn.

Note:

There are around 65 County Councils and Unitary Authorities in England and Wales with smallholding estates. Nationally, they cover some 300,000 acres and provide farms for over 4,000 tenants. Somerset County Council has around 95 tenants on around 9,000 acres.

link Tenant Farming, 2007 and Beyond
link Family Farms - the Backbone of British Agriculture
link Working Together For British Farming In 2007

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Tenant Farmers Association