New lettings of farmland in England and Wales rose by just over 3% in 2017, to 73,199 acres.
Let land in England represents more than 35% of the agricultural land area but the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers’ annual survey shows the amount of land changing hands remained at historic low levels, with 951 units let in the year to October 2017.
The area newly let in 2017 compares with an average annual gain of 35,000 acres between 1996 and 2003 and annual losses before the 1995 tenancy reform of 60,000‐90,000 acres.
The 2017 total was accounted for by 45,425 acres of new farm business tenancies (FBT), 16,112 acres of new contract farming arrangements, 8,612 acres on new grazing agreements and 2,938 acres where succession to 1986 Act tenancies took place.
The current trend is of a virtual standstill since 2003, when the first indications of CAP reform were becoming apparent, and particularly since 2006 once entitlements to the Single Payment Scheme had been allocated, says Mr Moody.
The average length of FBT declined marginally, year-on-year, from 4.48 years to 3.97 years – although this is slightly above the 10-year average of three years and nine months.
Farms let with a house and buildings are typically let for eight to 12 years, while those with buildings alone average around five years. The length of tenancy also rises with the size of the letting so those smaller than 25 acres averaged 2.8 years against eight years for those larger than 200 acres.
Where there is a change of occupier, 15-30% of lettings are typically to new entrants.
Let land survey – key points
- 951 units changed hands in the year to October 2017 – historic low levels
- Small net increase of 2,478 acres to a total of 73,199 acres (excluding tenancies coming up for regular renewal)
- Compares with average annual gain of 35,000 acres between 1996 and 2003 and annual losses before 1995 tenancy reform of 60,000‐90,000 acres
- Average farm business tenancy (FBT) length fell slightly from 4.48 years to 3.97 years – still above the 10-year average of three years and nine months
- For tenancies of longer than one year but shorter than five years, the average term is just under five years
- For FBTs of longer than ﬁve years, the average term is 10.7 years
- Almost 76% of 1986 Act tenancies ending with no successor were re-let as FBTs
- Those seen as new entrants obtained 7.6% of new tenancies, and 18% where the change tenancy meant anew occupier
- The figures exclude tenancies coming up for regular renewal.
(Based on decisions taken about land occupation between 1 November 2016 – 31 October 2017)
Source: Central Association of Agricultural Valuers