Scottish farmland©Viewpoint/Rex Shutterstock

Average farmland rents in Scotland have risen by 3% over the past year, despite farmers suffering with falling prices and delayed subsidy payments.

Figures from the Scottish government showed the average rent for land was £39/ha in 2015, compared with £38/ha the previous year.

A similar rent rise to £26/ha, up from £25/ha in 2014, on poorer-quality Less Favoured Area (LFA) land were recorded over the same period.

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However, tenants farming better-quality land were hit harder after average rents rose from £124/ha to £130/ha.

Rents were highest in Fife and the Lothians, with three-quarters of farmers paying more than £75/ha. Rents were lowest in Shetland and Na h-Eileanan Siar, where half of rents were less than £3/ha.

The figures were gleaned from the census on tenanted agricultural land in Scotland 2015 (PDF).

The survey showed 23% of agricultural land in Scotland was rented on full tenancy or a croft in 2015 – about one-sixth of the total area of Scotland.

The Scottish government said rents had received above-inflation increases since 2008.

Commenting on the survey, NFU Scotland said considering the huge financial pressure on Scottish farmers and crofters over the past 12 months, it was difficult to justify any increase in rents.

NFUS legal and technical policy manager Gemma Thomson said farmers in all sectors were suffering a “torrid time”, with commodity prices at an historic low.

“There remains a disconnect between farm rents and farm profitability,” she added.

Ms Thomson said rent reviews could be a “point of friction” between landlords and tenants. She urged members with concerns over a tenancy to contact NFUS to allow it to refer issues to tenant farming commissioner Andrew Thin.