As a means of making more agricultural land to be available
for rent and to formalise a wide range of informal tenurial arrangements,
the Agricultural Tenancies Act 1995 introduced Farm Business
In 1990, Michael Winter, then of the Royal Agricultural
College at Cirencester, carried out a survey for RICS of
land tenure across England and Wales.
With funding from
the RICS Education Trust, Michael Winter, now at the University
of Exeter, re-visited this study, to compare the current
situation with that of 1990.
What did he find? “The key finding is that there
has been no fundamental shift from owner occupation towards
conventional tenancies.”, noted Michael Winter.
proportion of land let under full agricultural tenancies
has dropped sharply, to be replaced by FBTs, but the overall
proportion of land let conventionally appears to have actually
In 1990 owner occupation accounted for
58.7% of the land area – in 2007 it was 57.7%. The
inexorable post-1918 increase in owner occupation has been
halted but it has hardly yet been put into reverse.
have been modest increases in both formal and informal
unconventional tenures, particularly contract farming.
This suggests that although FBTs have undoubtedly filled
a gap in the market they cannot cope with the contractual
flexibility required in some situations.
As Michael winter
concludes, “The land use and management implications
for the continuing wide range of occupancy arrangements
are little understood”.
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