RENTING LAND that has been under set-aside for 15 years may not sound much of a commercial prospect, but one south Lincs agent says the idea may appeal to a new breed of tenant. Stephen Knipe of the eponymous Bourne-based firm is looking for somebody to rent 111 acres of soil without any historic entitlements at Witham on the Hill, and the last thing he expects is for the successful tenant to want to put it back into production. “I anticipate that whoever takes it on won”t want to crop it.”

Appeal

Mr Knipe reckoned the land would appeal to farmers who have entitlements to historic single farm payments but no land to claim them on. “What will be really interesting is how much they are prepared to pay,” he said. “Some are desperate to get hold of land because they need to activate their payments this May to avoid seeing them go up in a puff of smoke.”

Interest

Vegetable growers who will have a set-aside liability for the first time could also be interested, said Mr Knipe. Anybody claiming SFP will have to set-aside 8% of their land that is not under permanent pasture, and those growing specialist crops may prefer to rent less productive land for their set-aside rather than waste their own more profitable soil. Because everybody bidding for the land would be doing so for different reasons, Mr Knipe said it was extremely difficult to say how much it was worth. But he said he wouldn”t be surprised if some people offered as low as 20/acre and others much more.