‘Scottish tenant farmers need security of tenure’

Scottish tenant farmers need security of tenure to maintain a foothold in the industry, the Scottish Tenant Farmers’ Association has said.

Speaking at the association’s AGM in Perth last week (23 February), chairman Angus McCall said land tenure must underpin Scottish land reform.

Addressing Dr Alison Elliot, chair of the Land Reform Review Group – set up by the Scottish government to shape future Scottish land use and policy, the association said almost one-third of all Scottish agricultural land is under tenancy, and a review of the letting of land should be included in future reform.

There were still too many cases of poor relations between tenants and landlords, said Mr McCall.

“The fundamental flaws of the tenanted system create frustrations and dissatisfaction, particularly in terms of rent reviews, investment, succession and access to land,” he said.

McCall steps down
STFA chairman Angus McCall announced his intention to step down as chairman of the association, after nine year’s service.
Mr McCall, who is a founder member of the STFA, will be replaced be a new chairman at the next board meeting.

Tenancies were one of the only pathways for new entrants into farming, and new thinking and innovative ideas were needed to expand these entry routes, he said.

The industry needed to look into new concepts such as share farming as well as succession issues to ensure retiring tenants could be replaced with aspiring young farmers.

“In common with other businesses, agriculture requires constant investment and security of tenure is a necessary ingredient for continuity and stability and to encourage investment in the countryside,” added Mr McCall.

Without security of tenure, the number of secure and heritable tenancies in Scotland – currently 75% of all tenancies – would fall and more short-term, high-rent tenancies would be formed, or land would be taken back in hand, he said.

“The inevitable consequence of this is the trend towards ever-larger agri-industrial operations at the expense of traditional family-size farms and the consequent decline in the rural population and the downstream rural economy.”

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