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Stackyard News Jul 09

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Farm Tenancy Issues to the Fore at The Great Yorkshire Show

The Tenant Farmers Association is using its presence at this year's Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate to highlight some of the problems currently being faced by tenant farmers in the north-east of England.



TFA National Chairman, Greg Bliss said “Farm tenants are an important part of the make up of British agriculture since they are responsible for the management of about one third of the agricultural land of the country. Unfortunately the Government does not always consider the position of farm tenants when it develops or alters its policies towards agriculture. The introduction of the Upland's tier of the entry-level scheme (UELS) is a case in point. The UELS will replace the current system of hill farm allowances from next year but many tenants in hill areas will not be able to access the scheme either because their landlords will already be in the entry-level scheme which will be a base requirement for entering UELS or because they will not have the necessary five years remaining on their tenancies which will also be a scheme requirement. We are very worried that essential support to hill areas will be lost".

The TFA will also be highlighting issues associated with rent reviews. As a result of the spike in output prices in 2007 many landlords took the opportunity of serving notices for rent review on their agricultural tenants. In many cases these notices were due to review rents as at September 2008. However, at that stage prices had fallen back and costs were higher than they had been in previous years. This has led to a large number of rents remaining unsettled with arbitrators having been appointed.

“In the absence of a reasonable argument for an increase in rent due to the profitability of agriculture, landlords’ agents returned to their traditional hunting ground of looking at the value of the farmhouse. The TFA has been greatly concerned that landlords’ agents have been attempting to ascribe residential rental values to farmhouses within a farm tenancy. We in the TFA condemn this approach. Farmhouses should be considered in the context of the holdings within which they are being let and rents compared with other holdings let under similar terms as the legislation requires,” said Mr Bliss.

The TFA is also concerned about the continuing sell-off of county council smallholdings by local authorities like North Yorkshire County Council.

"It's like selling off the family silver - once it's gone its gone. Local authorities need to think more strategically about their assets in order to achieve better value for its council tax payers and for the farming industry," said Mr Bliss.

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