Tenant or landowner ?

Hey
As an Australian, it’s something that I’m not that familiar with & probably don’t have a good grasp on, but reading TFF it seems that a lot of farm businesses operate on leased / rented land ( owned by the Duke of Westminster, or the C of E or some other massive aristocratic landowner ), rather than having freehold title on your land. There also seems to be a bit of “tension” between tenant farmers & landowners ? Which then raises questions over what a “real” farmer is ?

just curious, does anyone have a rough idea of what % of farm businesses in the UK are tenants & how many actually own the land they farm ?. Which is “normal” or the most common ?

Most here own the land they farm

cheers 👍
 

unlacedgecko

Member
Livestock Farmer
Hey
As an Australian, it’s something that I’m not that familiar with & probably don’t have a good grasp on, but reading TFF it seems that a lot of farm businesses operate on leased / rented land ( owned by the Duke of Westminster, or the C of E or some other massive aristocratic landowner ), rather than having freehold title on your land. There also seems to be a bit of “tension” between tenant farmers & landowners ? Which then raises questions over what a “real” farmer is ?

just curious, does anyone have a rough idea of what % of farm businesses in the UK are tenants & how many actually own the land they farm ?. Which is “normal” or the most common ?

Most here own the land they farm

cheers 👍
What's the context of a real farmer? In terms of claiming subs, or tax benefits or other?

All the land I rent is on 364 day grazing licences. This means the landowner grows a crop of grass (often by doing nothing) then sells me the rights to graze/cut that grass. This means he retains his status as "real farmer", which allows him to claim the subs on the land and enjoy the tax benefits. There is also no chance for me to nefariously claim a tenancy.

Also means if someone offers £5/acre I have to cough up or pee off. Doesn't exactly inspire me to invest in the ground.
 
What's the context of a real farmer? In terms of claiming subs, or tax benefits or other?

All the land I rent is on 364 day grazing licences. This means the landowner grows a crop of grass (often by doing nothing) then sells me the rights to graze/cut that grass. This means he retains his status as "real farmer", which allows him to claim the subs on the land and enjoy the tax benefits. There is also no chance for me to nefariously claim a tenancy.

Also means if someone offers £5/acre I have to cough up or pee off. Doesn't exactly inspire me to invest in the ground.
NO idea what a “real” farmer is meant to mean, but it does seem to take up a lot of TFF space . . .

I also don’t really understand how subs etc work & who is or isn’t eligible. . .
The whole concept is foreign to me
 
What's the context of a real farmer? In terms of claiming subs, or tax benefits or other?

All the land I rent is on 364 day grazing licences. This means the landowner grows a crop of grass (often by doing nothing) then sells me the rights to graze/cut that grass. This means he retains his status as "real farmer", which allows him to claim the subs on the land and enjoy the tax benefits. There is also no chance for me to nefariously claim a tenancy.

Also means if someone offers £5/acre I have to cough up or pee off. Doesn't exactly inspire me to invest in the ground.
you need to move to a country where land prices are more in line with productive capability . . . 😁
 

holwellcourtfarm

Member
Livestock Farmer
Last I saw the figure was approximately 40% tenanted in agriculture here. It varies across regions a bit.

Landlords vary from the dear old C of E and The Crown at the large end to old Mrs Miggins whose horse paddock is no longer needed.

Before we bought any of our land we had 9 landlords across 380 acre ranging from 120 acres here belonging to one of the largest mineral companies in the UK to 0.75 acres in the corner of a bigger field which an adjacent householder had bought to secure their view.
 

Pringles

Member
Location
West Fife
We are tenant 's and owners so can see both sides of the coin.

The "tension" that you speak of is brought about when you have idiots like Glasshouse who seems to think that "what's his is his and what's mine should also be his".

My family have farmed the block of land that we tenant since 1938, we have a very good relationship with the landlords but they are absolutely terrified of the 'right to buy' legislation which folks like Glasshouse are desperate to have brought into force. When this was first talked about landlords like ours employed land agents to help them safeguard their land.

This has totally backfired on everyone as the land agent's are complete parasites who are lining their pockets and destroying relationships which have been built up over many generations. So landlords are now taking land back in hand and farming it themselves which is denying young people the chance of a tenancy.

I think that @holwellcourtfarm is right with his figure of 40%.

I wouldn't rent land to anyone at the minute because of people like Glasshouse!
 

toquark

Member
We have both owned and rented ground, also I look after a bit of rented ground in my day job. All of the rented land is on 364 day leases. This does nothing for the land in question other than slowly deplete it over time.

Traditionally, renting farms was the way new entrants got into the industry. Historically land values reflected productive capacity so it wasn't impossible or that unusual for a tenant farmer to eventually farm their way into an owned unit. Today however land values are completely divorced from production, significantly reducing the ability of new farmers to secure thier own land.

This coupled with the right to buy fears held by many large landowners, has massively reduced the amount of rentable acres offered each year and has had a very detrimental impact on the industry. It only serves to further the disparity between industrial farmers (who in many cases are there only by virtue of an enterprising ancestor) and the rest of us.

@Pringles is correct in stating you'd have to be clinically insane to let land on a longer term basis for fear of ending up with a tenant intent on robbing you of your own farm!
 

holwellcourtfarm

Member
Livestock Farmer
Also remember there are various types of "tenancy" in British farmland.

Old style AHA tenancies (Agricultural Holdings Act 1986) which can only be terminated if the tenant commits one of the "7 deadly sins" (failure to pay rent on time, bad husbandry etc). There is a right of succession inherent in these tenancies for the next 2 generations should they qualify. This generally devalues the land by 50% on the open market. Rent reviews can occur every 3 years but only if the right notice is served 12 months earlier and they are subject to appeal if parties can't agree.

FBT's (Farm Business Tenancies) introduced in 1995 to replace the AHA and try to increase the supply of farm land on the market. These typically only run for 3 or 5 years and can be ended by simple service of 12 months notice. Rents are very competetive and often ridiculously high leading to "mining of fertility".

Short term licences, lasting under 365 days (in order to prevent a tenancy being created by default). Usually used for root crops or grazing.

A good basic guide is here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/agricultural-tenancies#farm-business-tenancies
 

holwellcourtfarm

Member
Livestock Farmer
@Pringles is correct in stating you'd have to be clinically insane to let land on a longer term basis for fear of ending up with a tenant intent on robbing you of your own farm!
Or very public spirited and confident of your relationship with the tenant.....

Short term tenancies have been dreadful for soil health. Why would you look after the soil if you are paying top dollar and only have the land for 3 years?
 

Rossymons

Member
Location
Cornwall
Councils are also fairly large Landlords but their estates are shrinking and will probably continue to do so.

Many probably have estates worth 100m, 200m or even more.

Theres never enough nurses or teachers or public infrastructure or houses...doesnt take a genius to look at the estate which is worth 10k/acre and only yielding 100/acre in rent and sell it off.
 

toquark

Member
Or very public spirited and confident of your relationship with the tenant.....

Short term tenancies have been dreadful for soil health. Why would you look after the soil if you are paying top dollar and only have the land for 3 years?
I've been pushing for the ground we rent to be put on to a 5 or 10 year FBT which would then justify us investing in it which it desperately needs. The landlord (retired farmer, not a member of the mustard corduroy gang) is very reluctant and frankly I don't blame him. Even though we get on well and have similar objectives, the political climate in Scotland is so anti land owner that they will avoid anything which could be perceived as weakening their hold on their land, even a relatively "safe" medium term FBT.
 

rusty

Member
Dairy farming here and I own 280 acres which is predominantly the home farm. Also rent 160 acre farm next door on a 15 year FBT. I also rent an additional 120 acres 6 miles away on an annual grazing licence from a farmer who is semi retired and downsizing the amount of work he does himself.
A mixture of owned , tenanted and various short term agreements would be quite common in the U.K.
 

neilo

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Montgomeryshire
Or very public spirited and confident of your relationship with the tenant.....

Short term tenancies have been dreadful for soil health. Why would you look after the soil if you are paying top dollar and only have the land for 3 years?
I agree on the short term tenancies. However, we have a 20 year FBT here and I have made a significant investment in turning this place round. Approaching the halfway point of the 20 year term, my view on any long term investment or improvement will progressively change from now on. This place will certainly be in better shape at the end of that 20 year term, but there will still be several years of underinvestment towards the end.
 

puppet

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
sw scotland
One big difference here is that land was given to families 500 years ago for supplying workers to fight in a war. Those families then did less farming so land was rented out to peasants rather than sold. Other rich people could then buy it and still rent it out for generations. Same applies to large areas of London which is leasehold properties.
500 years ago in Australia there weren't many landlords so I guess when we settled there the land was simply bought ( or acquired) so a high proportion of owners was the result.
 

Goweresque

Member
Location
North Wilts
NO idea what a “real” farmer is meant to mean, but it does seem to take up a lot of TFF space . . .
The reason for that is easy - subsidies. Many people are unaware (or refuse to accept) that if one subsidises 'farmers' you de facto will end up subsidising landowners as well via the rental system. Much in the way if the government offers welfare payments to people to be able to afford housing that will inevitably subsidise the people who own houses and rent them out, via higher rents than could be afforded without the welfare payment.

Hence there is a strong strand of (erroneous) argument that states if only farm subsidies could be targeted at 'real farmers' all would be well and the evil landowners would all starve to death or be forced to sell their land to the jolly red faced 'real' farmer with mud on his boots and oil on his hands for a pittance and all would be well with the world.

Its a fairy tale and like all fairy tales has very little connection to the real world..........
 

Dry Rot

Member
Livestock Farmer
I don't know about the rest of the UK, but here in Scotland we landowners (well, me at any rate, on 30 acres! :) ) are reluctant to lease because of mutterings by political parties about the tenant getting the right to buy.

Not going to happen? I believe crofters (small farmers with special legal status) already have that right. The law has been tightened up but in the past, that allowed at least one crofter to buy his croft (>1,000 acres) for peanuts and promptly sell it on to a forestry company for a substantial profit.
 

Sid

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
South Molton
I don't know about the rest of the UK, but here in Scotland we landowners (well, me at any rate, on 30 acres! :) ) are reluctant to lease because of mutterings by political parties about the tenant getting the right to buy.

Not going to happen? I believe crofters (small farmers with special legal status) already have that right. The law has been tightened up but in the past, that allowed at least one crofter to buy his croft (>1,000 acres) for peanuts and promptly sell it on to a forestry company for a substantial profit.
And the government get a nice big capital gains payment!
What's not to like?😡
 

DrWazzock

Member
Location
Lincolnshire
We once did the contracting on a field for a farmer where several strips in the field ( not marked in any way) still belonged to owners who went back to the days of medieval strip farming. They amounted to insignificant areas of maybe a tenth of an acre. Nobody really bothered about it but if the owners had kicked up it would have made quite a mess of the field having long strips in different ownership running right through the middle of it.
 

Nithsdale Farmer

Member
Livestock Farmer
We are tenant 's and owners so can see both sides of the coin...

...My family have farmed the block of land that we tenant since 1938, we have a very good relationship with the landlords but they are absolutely terrified of the 'right to buy' legislation which folks like Glasshouse are desperate to have brought into force. When this was first talked about landlords like ours employed land agents to help them safeguard their land.

This has totally backfired on everyone as the land agent's are complete parasites who are lining their pockets and destroying relationships which have been built up over many generations. So landlords are now taking land back in hand and farming it themselves which is denying young people the chance of a tenancy.
Tenancies were scarce long before Right to Buy came in. And it only affects the old pre'91 tenancies. There is absolutely no reason for estates not to lease out farms on modern Limited duration Tenancies.. Right to Buy is a convenient excuse for a practice estates have been doing for hundreds of years, the real reason is the tax system. They can hide more money, and pay far less TAX, if they are actively farming themselves.
 

Rejuvenating swards: Which option is best?

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Written by Brian McDonnell

Maintaining grass quality during mid-season grazing is important. Farmers can maintain quality by entering ideal grazing covers of 1,300 – 1,500kg DM/ha, and grazing down to a residual of 4cm every rotation.

If you are now in a situation where cows are not cleaning out paddocks as well as they should be, leading to the development of steamy grass within the sward, here are some options.

Common options for rejuvenating swards include:

  1. Take a silage cut, probably into bales, remove the material and start again with the aftermath...
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