Coronavirus: Landlords asked to reduce rent for farmers

The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) and the NFU have urged landlords to give rent reductions to farmers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

There are concerns the outbreak is creating challenges for farming businesses across the country, many of which are still reeling from devastating flooding brought by storms Ciara and Dennis.

The health crisis has seen farmers lose staff, demand for diversified ventures drop and damage to food supply chains, with some processors and purchasers facing challenges to find outlets for the farm produce.

See also: Analysis: Why have beef and lamb prices dropped this week

In a letter to the Crown Estate, National Trust, Church Commissioners, Duchy of Cornwall and the Duchy of Lancaster, NFU vice-president Tom Bradshaw asked for any help they could give farmers, who are working in unprecedented times.

He said: “We are asking landlords to be understanding towards tenants when it comes to paying rent; consider flexible payments, rent-free holidays and, in some cases, a rent reduction.

“We will be encouraging our members to seek guidance on how to best manage any financial impact to their business, speaking to their bank and farm advisers, anything they can do to help any cashflow issues in the short- and medium term.”

Mr Bradshaw said farmers had large areas of land still too wet to drill after weeks of heavy rain in February, and following no drilling in the autumn.

Act reasonably

The TFA urged landlords to act reasonably in offering rent reductions or deferrals, where needed. It also called for a halt to current disputes, including all rent reviews, and for flexibility with tenancies at their start or finish.

National chairman Mark Coulman said: “It’s absolutely critical that all parties, however acrimonious relationships may have been, pull together on this one to reduce anxiety, poor mental health and to ensure there’s an economically viable industry.

“Landlords must not use this to forget the challenges the winter has presented to farmers, and the medium-term impact this will have.”

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