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    County Council Farms are Important National Asset
25/09/08

The Tenant Farmers Association has affirmed the importance of county council farm estates as, strategic, national assets that should be retained and managed for the future benefit of agriculture and the nation as a whole.

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Speaking at the opening of Centenary Farm on the Cheshire County Council farm’s estate to mark the 100th anniversary of County Farms, the TFA's Chief Executive George Dunn said "I am delighted to be present at an event which not only marks the important heritage of County Farms but also stresses their essential future role. Today's challenges are very different to those of a century ago and local authorities have many more competing demands on their scarce resources. However, there are still many looking to get into agriculture but who lack the necessary capital to purchase land or to take on larger tenancies offered in the private sector. County farms therefore provide an extremely important first rung on the farming ladder and a vital way of bringing new blood into the agricultural industry."

"With concerns over future of food security, the impacts of climate change and the greater demand for food of high quality with local provenance, county farms have a key role in making sure that we build the necessary capacity to have the flexibility to meet the challenges which lie ahead and the growing demands of society” said Mr Dunn.

“County farms also assist local authorities in meeting wider objectives in relation to countryside and environmental issues. A wide range of benefits can be provided from County farms including new sources of renewable energy, countryside access, educational opportunities, landscape planning and assisting with flood risks,” said Mr Dunn.

"It is a shame therefore that many local authorities have either sold or are considering selling the farms that they own. Such decisions are normally made in response to financial demands elsewhere within the authority. However, the TFA would argue that there are strong examples of where sound asset management planning coupled with good estate management can produce significant financial rewards for the local authority whilst being able to retain a vibrant county farms estate for the wide range of benefits that they can produce”.

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Tenant Farmers Association