The Tenant Farmers Association has suggested that share farming could assist both with easing farm tenants into retirement whilst providing opportunities for new entrants.
Speaking ahead of this year’s Great Yorkshire Show, where last year the CLA launched its Share Farming initiative, TFA Chief Executive George Dunn said “The TFA is often characterised as being anti-share farming but this is simply not the case. Whilst we oppose those situations where landlords use share farming purely as a tax avoidance measure and without proper commitment to the working relationship, done properly we recognise that share farming has advantages”.
“We want to explore the extent to which there is any appetite amongst landowners for using share farming to assist with tenant retirement and creating opportunities for new entrants. In the same way that many long standing owner occupiers have much to offer in working alongside a new entrant, tenant farmers too have a lot to give including from their unique experience of running a farm business without holding the security of the land,” said Mr Dunn.
Many landlords bemoan the fact that tenants on secure tenancies without successors block their ability to encourage new entrants. Allowing their older tenants to enter into share farming arrangements could help break what has been seen as a logjam.
“As with owner occupiers, it would not work in every situation but it could be a real solution to ease older tenants, without successors, into retirement with dignity whilst providing that all-important first rung on the farming ladder that is much talked about. The tenant could remain living in the farm house and be on hand to give advice and support to the new farmer as well as continuing to share the risk and the management of the farming activities. In the long term, the share farmer may be in a position to take a tenancy of the farm, on a good length Farm Business Tenancy, directly from the landowner,” said Mr Dunn.
“All we need are some go ahead landlords and tenants to give it a go and I would hope that the CLA would see the advantages of supporting this initiative given its general encouragement of share farming,” said Mr Dunn.