The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) is encouraging tenant farmers and others who do not own the land they farm, to take advice before making major land occupation decisions.
With heavy competition for land, there is often a temptation to sign up too readily to agreements which will leave individuals vulnerable either during the course of their agreements or when they come to an end.
TFA Adviser, Adriana Vaux, said “Very sadly, the TFA sees a lot of cases where people have got themselves into major difficulty because they didn’t see the importance of taking advice early. There is an understandable desire for people to want to press ahead with their business aspirations, but they must not allow their hearts to rule their heads. Taking the time to ensure that any written agreements properly match anything which has been agreed orally or in correspondence leading up to the signing of the agreement, is vital.”
In other cases, it is the complete absence of a written agreement that is the problem.
“We see cases all too frequently, where people have invested time, energy and money into activities upon which they have become reliant for their livelihoods, but where there is no underpinning agreement with the owner of the land. These situations can often continue without issue for several years. However, it only takes a change in the landlord or even the landlord’s adviser for problems to occur. It is essential that all necessary consents, rights and responsibilities are recorded in writing,” said Adriana.
When unforeseen issues do arise, it is crucial that they are tackled head-on and not allowed to fester to create bigger problems in the long run. This could be ill health, financial difficulties, weather events or family breakdown.
“Burying your head in the sand is never a good tactic for handling difficult issues. Carrying on regardless in the hope that the issues will either go away of their own accord, normally gives way to greater problems into the long term. Talking about the issues, taking early advice and looking for a plan won’t make the issues go away, but will provide a way through those tough times. Seeking advice is not a sign of weakness,” said Adriana.
“There is a welcome, much greater societal awareness of the damage caused by poor mental health. However, there remain many within the farming community who suffer in silence. It behoves us all within the sector to watch for those who are stressed, isolated and depressed and gently encourage them to seek help from the many organisations available including the TFA with our dedicated advisers,” said Adriana.