Farmers should look out for traps in tenancy agreements and other documentation which could see them losing vital support payments.
The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) warned farmers could sign agreements without realising the implications for their single farm payment.
“Increasingly the TFA is seeing new tenancy agreements containing clauses seeking to deprive tenants of their existing and future entitlements to single farm payments for little or no compensation in return,” said TFA chief executive George Dunn.
“Unsuspecting tenants who are glad to have the opportunity of farming additional land may fall unsuspectingly into these traps if they do not take advice. It is important that tenants read carefully through any document they are asked to sign and seek advice from the TFA or a professional adviser before completing any new agreement,” he said.
The TFA has seen a number of standard farm tenancy agreements featuring these “alarming” clauses.
It said these are in direct contravention of guidance issued by the Tenancy Reform Industry group in 2004, which said it would be considered “unfair if the individual to whom entitlement had been allocated were required by a clause in the agreement to give it up for little or no consideration in comparison to its value”.
“The TFA would urge all professionals advising landlords not to include clauses in agreements with tenant farmers which seek to harvest the benefit of support through the CAP for the landlord’s benefit,” said Mr Dunn.
“With all the uncertainty surrounding the current process of reform to the CAP it would be very easy for individuals to sign up to agreements that they later find particularly disadvantageous. This increases the need for tenants to ensure they are obtaining objective advice before signing agreements,” he added.
The TFA is holding workshops for all tenants, not just TFA members, around the country on CAP reform and the implications for tenants. For more information on the CAP Reform Roadshow meetings, contact Larissa Harmsworth on 0118 930 6130.