5 September 1997

Legislative change not all good news for new entrants

DEBATE rages over whether new entrants have benefited from the new legislation.

Philip Meade of Davis, Meade and Partners says "no". High rents, together with other capital costs involved in starting farming, mean there have been very few advantages, he says.

"Big farmers have been snatching the land and pushing the smaller ones out. New land may have come on to the market – but its not gone to the people who need it."

And this, says Mr Meade, is storing up problems for 10 or 15 years time, when the "generation gap" will become apparent.

Landlords are also now taking the "whip-hand" by dictating the tenancy terms. "They have shifted repairing responsibilities onto tenants."

Agreements are also including "nosey" clauses, requiring the tenant to divulge details such as yields and accounts, says Mr Meade.

Meanwhile for some people, tied into paying fixed rents at a time of falling profits, bankruptcy is likely, he predicts.

Privilege

Giles Johnston of DDM says some of the rents bid can only be justified as a means of spreading fixed costs across additional land. "This is a privilege new entrants dont have."

Most FBTs represent a reorganisation of other existing arrangements. Replacing old Ministry licences, Gladstone v Bower agreements and grazing licences, for example. "True new lettings are very thin on the ground," says Mr Johnston.n