26 June 2000
Tenants keen to diversify – TFA

By FWi staff

TENANT farmers have dismissed suggestions that they are reluctant to diversify and ignorant of opportunities to earn additional non-farm income.

Only 14% of tenant farmers ask their landlord about diversifying, according to a survey by the Country Landowners Association (CLA).

The survey found 328 out of 2242 tenants questioned had approached their landlords although 94% of landowners look favourably on diversification plans.

Oliver Harwood, CLA national rural practice surveyor, described the results as a clear indicator of an urgent need for more advice on diversification.

“Much more should be done by way of education, training and encouragement to enable tenants to grasp diversification opportunities that exist.”

But George Dunn, chief executive of the Tenant Farmers Association, said that the results of the CLA survey had failed to reveal the whole story.

“We have quite a file of members queries from individuals who have approached their landlords,” he told Farmers Weekly.

Landlords sometimes refuse consent or demand a slice of the income from diversification which often renders new enterprises uneconomic, said Mr Dunn.

“I wouldnt wish to say that tenants are suffering under the cosh of landlords; neither would I wish to agree that tenants arent interested in diversification.”

Non-farming activities require investment and the farming crisis means that there often isnt the money around to fund diversification, added Mr Dunn.

Many tenancies require that most of a tenants income comes from farming. Income from diversification can sometimes jeopardise the tenancy, he said.