22 December 2000

Landlords asked to reduce rents

SAVAGE losses await tenant farmers unless landlords adjust rents immediately, according to the NFU.

Somerset NFU chairman, Marshall Taylor, said: "Most [tenant farmers] are about to move into savage losses, and with few reserves and no land to act as collateral they are in an impossible position."

He added that there was real evidence that the institutional landlords were ignoring the plight of their tenants. "At best they are only helping the very worst cases. I believe the Church Commissioners should take a lead and adjust rent in keeping with the farms earning capacity," he said.

A spokesman for the Church of England said: "We refute any suggestions that we are ignoring the plight of farmers. And cannot impose a blanket reduction in rents because every farm is different.

"But if individual farmers are having difficulties they should discuss them immediately."

Meanwhile in Gloucestershire the county councils 100 tenant farmers are also demanding cuts in rents in order to stay in business.

Dairy farmer David Stafford, of Standish, near Stroud, took the county council to an independent arbitrator in a bid to reduce his rent.

He won a 16% cut but the council has appealed against the decision.

Gloucestershire NFU county chairman, Peter Davidson-Smith, said this week that he thought the council could be contesting the decision because it was planning to sell the smallholdings and wanted to get the best possible price.

A spokeswoman for the council denied that its rents were higher than those elsewhere in the country. "Many local authority rents have stayed still whereas in the 20 months prior to May 2000 we actually reduced 43 rentals," she said. &#42