The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) is saddened to hear of another county council plan to sell off part of their farm holdings. Staffordshire County Council has to date, had a vibrant and large county farms estate. However, last week they announced plans to part with 16 of their 83 council farms.
The TFA sees this as another substantial blow to the provision of opportunities for new entrants and those wanting to progress, as well as the council’s farms’ contribution to wider local authority functions.
TFA Treasurer, Robert Martin, said “It is very sad to hear of another county council selling off tenant farms from its rural portfolio to pay for council services. These County farms should be looked on as a national asset, and not as something to be sold to fill a budget shortfall.”
Although the Council are downplaying the impact of selling only a proportion of their total estate while the ‘core estate’ of 6,600 acres will remain intact. The TFA fears this piecemeal approach to sales will jeopardise the sustainability of the wider estate, potentially hastening its demise.
“Local authorities must take a much more proactive approach to their management policies in order to provide important opportunities for new entrants and contribute to the wider local authority functions,” said Mr Martin.
“The importance of domestic food production, especially in the context of post Brexit planning, is brought home more clearly, especially if this land is taken out of agricultural production, “ said Mr Martin.
The TFA understands that three of the farms to be sold off are starter farms, which closes another avenue to young farmers wanting to make a start in this industry. If larger tenanted units are also sold off, then the ability for tenants to move their business forwards by moving onto another farm as their business grows is also stifled, “ said Mr Martin.
If you are likely to be affected by the sale of these Staffordshire County Council farms, please contact the TFA Head Office on 0118 930 6130 to speak to an adviser.