17 February 2000
Money men drive out tenant farmers

THE Tenant Farmers Association has accused investment trusts and financial institutions of driving tenant farmers out of the industry by demanding excessive rents for land, reports The Daily Telegraph.

The association said that, while most rents had fallen by 20% over the past year, “a significant hard core of recalcitrant landlords” refused to negotiate.

It complained that many farmers were forced to seek expensive arbitration at between 5000 and 10,000 a time to secure “fair” rents from financial institutions.

Leicestershire tenant dairy farmer Alastair Hayward, who has seen his stock almost half in value in five years, told the Radio 4 Farming Today programme that landlords should be more flexible.

“Because they come and ask for more when times are good, similarly they ought to ask for less when times are as difficult as they are today.”

With prices depressed for stock – usually a tenant farmers principal asset – and property prices rising rapidly in many places, tenant farmers contemplating retirement face an uncertain future.

By the same token, low stock, machinery and fertiliser prices make it a good time for young farmers to get a foothold in the industry.

The TFA holds its annual meeting in London on Thursday (17 February).