5 September 1997

Retiring not an end of contact with land

WHEN their cows are auctioned next week, it may mark the end of dairying for Edward and Jenny Burt, but it wont mean the end of contact with their land.

After 28 years at Broad Sturthill Farm, Bridport, Dorset, the Burts have let the unit on an FBT. This allows them to retain the asset, receive an income and release the working capital.

At the same time, an opportunity has been provided for a incoming tenant. As Mr Burt says: "Dairyings a young mans game."

A few years ago, selling the farm would have been the only credible option. "We wouldnt have let it under the old legislation, because we didnt want to tie up the land indefinitely."

The new set-up also allows the Burts to continue their interest in conservation. Together with the tenant, they will develop hedges and conservation strips under a Countryside Stewardship Scheme.

Christopher DOlley of letting agents Dreweatt Neate says: "As a very capitally-intensive business it is not always possible for farmers to provide both capital to purchase land and quota, as well as sufficient working capital.

"FBTs are an excellent way to share the capital cost, without the landowner having to sacrifice his lands capital value."n