Call for Holdings Act
A CALL for a reintroduction of the 1986 Agricultural Holdings Act into new tenancy agreements has been made by the Tenant Farmers Association.
The act, which has been superseded by the 1995 Agricultural Tenancies Act, now only applies to existing agreements or successions, says George Dunn, TFA chief executive.
That means landlords who encourage their tenants to move to progressively larger holdings, or those who have issued a notice to quit due to planning, can only offer new farms under the 1995 act – a farm business tenancy agreement.
But this offers little security, and many tenants cannot compete with open market values which are fuelled by large landowners looking to spread costs, says Mr Dunn. "The family farming concept is incompatible with these open market rents. That has stymied progression, with tenants unwilling to move."
Long-term old act agreements also encourage better land management, and keep more farmers on the land, helping local communities to prosper, he adds.
Discussions with the Country Landowners Association are underway. But the CLAs Oliver Harwood says he broadly agrees with a report issued by the University of Plymouth on behalf of the ministry which maintains it is too early to identify the likely effects of the 1995 act.
"One thing we do not want to do with legislation is to keep tinkering with it. You have to give it time to bed in. It would be nonsense to turn it around after three years. Broadly speaking, it is a whole lot better than before. The proportion of tenanted land was dropping each year. The new act has revived the tenanted sector."
Mr Harwood maintains new tenants come from a wide-ranging base, including new entrants, who took 12% of farm business tenancies. "The fact is there was no market for new entrants before." *