By FWi staff

DESPITE a large increase in the tenanted sector during 2000, the news is not all good for tenant farmers, according to the Tenant Farmers Association.

Recent figures released by the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers show that an extra 38,000 acres were brought into the sector for the year ending October 2000.

But George Dunn, chief executive of the TFA, says this hides a number of worrying trends.

Although he believes it is heartening that farm business tenancies are encouraging more let land to come to the market, he says rental terms are too short to allow tenants time to develop the holdings.

The average term for all lets was only four years, and 11 years on equipped units.

The TFA is also concerned that fewer than 10% of all farms were let with a dwelling, and only 20% had any buildings.

Only one in seven assured 1986-act tenancies coming up for renewal due to death or retirement of the incumbent were succeeded.

Reg Haydon, TFA chairman attributes a number of these cases to the lack of a successor or unwillingness by the farmers offspring to get involved in a depressed industry.

However, Jeremy Moody, of the CAAV, points out the increase in the amount of tenanted land might itself be an indication of the troubles facing the industry.

Under increasing pressure from diminishing farm incomes many producers are withdrawing from farming and letting out their land.