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Land Commission Report – a Milestone in Land Reform

Land Commission Report – a Milestone in Land Reform

Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

News Release

20th March 2019

Land Commission Report – a Milestone in Land Reform

The Scottish Tenant Farmers Association has warmly welcomed today’s publication of the Scottish Land Commission’s report on Large Scale and Concentrated Land ownership in Scotland. The report has found that concentrated land ownership is having significant impacts on rural communities across Scotland and has made a series of recommendations to ministers to address these adverse effects and to stimulate a more productive and dynamic pattern of landownership.

The detailed set of recommendations include:

  • Legal powers to subject large land sales to public interest tests in special cases in order to stop owners having excessive power.
  • A requirement for owners of large estates to draw up management plans that involve local communities.
  • Powers to investigate cases where landowners abuse their power, which could lead to compulsory purchase or community buyouts.
  • New ways to increase the number of small and privately-owned estates, farms and forests.

Commenting on the report, STFA Chairman, Christopher Nicholson said: “This report represents a major milestone in the Land Commission’s work setting the direction for the next phase of Land Reform. In representing the interests of tenant farmers STFA is acutely aware of the impact a monopoly of landownership can have on tenant farmers, rural communities and those who live and work on the land and is pleased to see these concerns are a key feature of the report.

“Over the last decade, the land reform agenda has improved the lot of the tenant farmer, encouraged better landlord behaviour, increased confidence and investment in tenanted farms and helped a good number of tenant farmers to purchase their farms. However, there are still some pockets where landownership is concentrated in a few hands and tenant farmers have found themselves reluctant to speak out and consequently unable to take advantage of opportunities to diversify or invest in their holdings. STFA therefore welcomes the report’s recognition that there are areas of concern where individuals are still “feart of the laird”.

“In particular we welcome the report’s recommendation that local communities should be allowed a greater role in influencing the planning and decision-making process, particularly where it involves land-use change in their locality.   Large scale conversion of agricultural land to forestry, for example, should be subject to planning constraints and should not take place without the agreement of local people, especially where it alters the character of the area and involves the displacement of tenant farmers and others to make way for tree planting.

“Similarly, STFA would agree with the Land Commission that the government should review fiscal incentives for forestry and renewable energy so that they are not only consistent with community empowerment, rural development and land reform objective but also do not advantage one sector at the expense of another as is increasingly becoming the situation with tree planting and the drive towards renewable energy by diverting land away from food production.

“STFA now looks forward to discussing the report with the Land Commission in greater detail and in particular the influence that a concentrated pattern of land management has on the rural community, with only a couple of land agent firms managing the vast bulk of rural Scotland.”

The experiences of farm tenants in areas of concentrated land ownership within the tenanted sector demonstrate the ability for large landowners to exercise disproportionate influence and power. In contrast, in areas where the large estates have been sold and have a more fragmented ownership structure, a new tenanted sector has developed where there is a better balance of power between landowner and tenant. These areas benefit from improved fairness and equality, have more confident and resilient communities, and demonstrate increased investment and entrepreneurialism.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Commissioner’s Code on Leases Welcomed by Sector

Commissioner’s Code on Leases Welcomed by Sector

Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

News Release

7th March 2019

 

Commissioner’s Code on Leases Welcomed by Sector

Bob McIntosh, the Tenant Farming Commissioner has, today, issued his latest Code of Practice, “Agreeing and Managing Agricultural Leases”, directed towards landowners, tenant farmers and land agents. This is the sixth Code of Practice issued by the Land Commission and is intended to ensure that there are robust procedures in place to avoid misunderstandings when a lease is being entered into, when changes are made throughout the term of the lease and when a fixed duration lease is being ended.

In supporting this latest code of practice, STFA Chairman, Christopher Nicholson said; “Scarcity of tenanted land is not a new phenomenon and competition for vacant farms has always been fierce. It is true today as it was forty years ago that tenants, having made a successful bid for a farm, are quite likely to sign up to a lease without fully understanding its consequences and implications. Fortunately, the new duration tenancies as well as recent reforms to tenancy law have given a great deal of added protection to the tenanted sector and the consequences nowadays of making a mistake will not be as serious as in the past, when signing a lease committed future generations as well as the present one.

“Similarly, it has not been uncommon for secure tenants to sign away their security of tenure for the sake of obtaining more land, a new shed or even just a rent reduction. Dozens of these tenants are now facing a very insecure future in Limited Partnership tenancies which can and often have been, brought to an end with very little notice.

“Recent legislation has outlawed practices such as post lease and write down agreements for tenant’s improvements, but there are a number of tenants who have now found that they have signed away a valuable asset without realising what they are doing.

“We would join with Bob McIntosh in encouraging all tenants to thoroughly examine their leases and pay special attention to any new agreement they are about to sign. Anyone signing a new MLDT or an SLDT should be absolutely clear what the terms are and who is responsible for what and what happens when the lease reaches the end of its term.

“STFA has also been made aware of some tenants of 1991 secure tenancies who have been asked by their landlord to renew their leases for taxation purposes, for the landlord’s benefit, (leases entered into before 1995 are only eligible for 50% inheritance tax relief, whereas post 1995 leases attract 100% relief). In most cases tenants have taken good legal advice and ensured that the new lease has the same benefits as the old one, including carrying forward tenant’s improvements, but there are a minority where this has not happened and the tenant’s family’s investment in the holding has been lost.

“Reluctant though many of us may be to enrich the legal profession, there are times when consulting a lawyer pays off!”

STFA MEETINGS HIGHLIGHT URGENCY OF TENANT’S AMNESTY

STFA MEETINGS HIGHLIGHT URGENCY OF TENANT’S AMNESTY

Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

News Release

12th December 2018

STFA MEETINGS HIGHLIGHT URGENCY OF TENANT’S AMNESTY

Last week saw the conclusion of a round of seven farm walks, held by the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association, demonstrating and explaining to tenant farmers how to carry out the amnesty for tenant’s improvements.

The farm walks consisted of an inspection of the tenant’s improvements and fixtures accompanied by a practical discussion of how they were carried outand what investment, if any, had been made by the landlord. The farms visited all had an interesting variety of works to be considered as improvements ranging from buildings, fencing and housing improvements to the less obvious land improvements such as drainage and stone clearance.

The farms were all under secure tenure with leases ranging from 40 to 140 years old with the older leases highlighting the investment that tenant families had made over the generations with some even installing electricity, water and fencing and converting moorland to arable. Walking around the farms discussing improvements raised some interesting points for discussion; how to treat joint investments by landlord and tenant; the effect of post lease agreements which transferred landlord’s obligations to the tenant; how to treat march fences which had been renewed by the tenant.

The afternoon sessions dealtwith the process of completing the amnesty and explaining what evidence and information is required to demonstrate that the improvement was carried out by the tenant. Tenants were encouraged to “send the dog wide” in gathering potential improvements, but to be prepared to be pragmatic and prioritise the most such as important items to be submitted.  Tenants were repeatedly reminded that the intention of the amnesty was to agree ownership of improvements and fixtures, their cost and compensation value were immaterial at this stage and would need to be considered until a valuation was required for waygo compensation or a farm sale.

Commenting on the farm walks STFA chairman Christopher Nicholson said: “These farm walks have attracted a high level of interest and have been extremely successful in giving a practical demonstration on how to compile a list of improvements and in explaining the more technical aspects of completing the process Feedback from the meetings has shown most attendees having taken the advice on board and already getting down to making a start on compiling a list of improvements.

“As well as regularising a register of tenant’s improvements, tenants were reminded of the importance of the amnesty for rent reviews. Although it has always been the case that tenants should not be expected to pay rent on their improvements (a fact frequently ignored by landlord’s agents), the new rent test will explicitly require improvements and fixtures to be taken account of when calculating the productive capacity of the holding

“Time is running out and tenants not getting underway with the amnesty over the next few months will struggle to complete it by June 2020. Experience has shown that the average amnesty will probably take at least 9 months to complete and those leaving it until next year will find the farm calendar getting in the way and the closer to the end of the amnesty, the agents will be and the less time they will have.

“The amnesty has the full support of the whole industry, it has been widely publicised and is being actively encouraged by the Sottish Government so it is surprising that such a small number of tenants are currently taking advantage of it and we would urge all tenants to get involved before it is too late. It really is the opportunity of a lifetime and will prove to be one of the most important tasks any tenant will undertake.  Fellow tenants in England are looking over the border with envy and cannot understand why uptake in Scotland has been so slow – don’t delay, start today!”

 

STFA ROLLS OUT PRACTICAL ON-FARM AMNESTY DAYS FOR TENANT FARMERS

STFA ROLLS OUT PRACTICAL ON-FARM AMNESTY DAYS FOR TENANT FARMERS

Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

News Release

19th October 2018

STFA ROLLS OUT PRACTICAL ON-FARM AMNESTY DAYS FOR TENANT FARMERS

 

In recognition of the importance of the tenant’s amnesty for improvements, the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association, supported by the Land Commission, is holding a series of farm walks explaining the amnesty process and demonstrating how it should work in practice. Seven farm walks are scheduled to be held on tenant farms during the end of October and beginning November. The practical session will be followed by soup and sandwiches at a nearby venue and a discussion session in the afternoon. Land agents from Youngs RPS and Davidson and Robertson Rural will lead the morning farm walks and discussion sessions in the afternoon and other professional agents will be in attendance. The events are supported by the Scottish Land Commission

Commenting on the initiative STFA director Angus McCall said: “Completing the tenants’ amnesty is one of the most important tasks most tenants will ever undertake. This is a unique opportunity to turn the clock back to regularise and record improvements carried out years ago which may not have been correctly notified. Not only will this mean that these items will now be eligible for end of tenancy compensation, but identifying tenant’s improvements and fixtures will be essential for the new rent test due to be rolled out in the next year or so.

“The amnesty expires in June 2020 and with not much more than 18 months to run, tenants cannot afford to delay much longer and should resolve to use the long winter evenings to compile a list of improvements and the necessary evidence to prove ownership.

“Tenants’ improvements do not just extend to buildings, fences, houses and the more obvious works which have been carried out over the years, but also to less obvious items such as drainage, reseeding and rock clearance. The farm walks will provide an opportunity to examine the scope of what may be considered as a tenant’s improvements and the Tenant Farming Commissioner will be on hand to give some practical guidance and clarity”.

The farm walks are open to members, but non-members are welcome to join STFA beforehand and attend the events. Registration is essential and early booking advisable.

To book or for further information contact STFA on 01408633275 / 07767756840 or email stfa@tfascotland.org.uk.

“Can you afford not to come along!”

Meeting Dates:

Mon     29th Oct Rogie Hill, Skene, Westhill Aberdeenshire, AB32 6YQ,

Wed     31st Oct   Little Kildrummie, Nairn, IV12 5QU

Thurs   1st   Nov Merriness, Tibbermore, PH1 1QL,

Mon     5th   Nov Ballagan Farm, Thornhill, DG3 4AW

Tues.   6th   Nov Sandyknowe, Kelso, Roxburghshire, TD5 7PG

Thurs 15th  Nov, Inchparks, Stranraer, DG9 8QN,

Tues     4th   Dec   Eorrabus Farm, Bridgend, Islay, PA44 7PG,

Tenant Farmers should not be treated as pawns

Tenant Farmers should not be treated as pawns

Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

News Release

17th October 2018

Tenant Farmers should not be treated as pawns

The Scottish Tenant Farmers Association has welcomed the Chairman of the Scottish Land Commission’s intervention in the ongoing row between Buccleuch Estates and tenant farmers facing eviction from the land they farm on the Eskdale and Liddesdale Estate. Chairman Andrew Thin has criticised the treatment of David and Alison Telfer by their landlords, who he says are behaving unreasonably.  The Telfers now have until November to leave the farm.

Applauding Andrew Thin’s comments, STFA director Angus McCall said; “It is high time that Buccleuch Estates realised that the decisions they make affect the lives of individuals who have been living and working on estate land and should not just be treated as pawns in the land management game. The Duke himself, his CEO John Glen and their factoring team have already been harshly criticism by the local community at a meeting called in February of this year to discuss forestry proposals on the Eskdale and Liddesdale Estate.  These proposals now seem to have been replaced by a policy of selling the land, much of it with sitting tenants on short term tenancies,  thus leaving the business of removing the tenants to make way for trees to the new owners.

“Andrew Thin is right to stand up for the Telfers who have only 4 years to go before retirement STFA shares his view that it would only be reasonable and decent to let them remain at Cleuchfoot until then.   At present the Land Commission has no power to force the issue but landowners like Buccleuch should think twice before ignoring criticism by the Land Commission, particularly as this is not the first time their behaviour and management style has been called into question.”

 

Notes for editors:

Andrew Thin’s comments have been reported by BBC Scotland https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-south-scotland-45862587

 

 

 

 

GUIDANCE CALLS FOR HONESTY AND TRANSPARENCY IN RENT NEGOTIATIONS

GUIDANCE CALLS FOR HONESTY AND TRANSPARENCY IN RENT NEGOTIATIONS

Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

News Release

18th September 2018

GUIDANCE CALLS FOR HONESTY AND TRANSPARENCY IN RENT NEGOTIATIONS

The Scottish Tenant Farmers Association has warmly welcomed the latest guidance on negotiating and conducting rent reviews issued today by Scotland’s Tenant Farming Commissioner (TFC), Bob McIntosh. The guidance builds on the2015 guide published jointly with NFUS, STFA and SLE and aims to clarify some aspects of the rent review process, particularly those relating to the provision of evidence and the use of the inflation linked sense check. The guidance is mainly aimed at 1991 tenancies but will also be relevant to some LDTs which have opted to use the same rent test.

Commenting on the latest guidance on rent reviews STFA Director Angus McCall said; “The ways in which rents are determined and rent reviews are conducted have been the subject of some intense debate over the last couple of decades triggering changes in two Acts of Parliament. This guidance seeks to continue reforming the rent system by ensuring that rent reviews are conducted in a fair and transparent manner, with all rent proposals based on sound verifiable evidence and negotiations carried out in a calm and responsible manner where neither side tries to “put one over” the other.

“It is disappointing that STFA is still hearing reports of rent reviews being carried out with scant regard to the guidelines agreed by the industry, albeit by a minority of land agents. Concerns about the scale of proposed rent increases and the lack of transparent evidence which would justify such an increase led to complaints being raised with TFC, Bob McIntosh earlier this year and we are pleased to see some aspects of the recommended rent processes reinforced and clarified in the latest guidance.

“The TFC has explained that the inflationary linked Consumer Price Index “CPI” is not intended as a rent setting prescription, but as a “sense check” and just one of the factors to be taken into account in determining the rent. Many land agents have got into the habit of adopting the CPI as a handy shortcut to justify rent increases without too much work, regardless of other economic or comparable evidence.

“The Guidance has also reinforced the need for transparency and honesty in justifying and explaining evidence put forward by both parties in their rent proposals or counter proposals. Too often rent demands have been based on vague comparable evidence presented with no detail, identification or explanation, making it virtually impossible for the other party to analyse to produce counter proposals.  STFA agrees with the TFC’s conclusion that rent reviews require agreement based on discussion and analysis of evidence provided by both sides. Wherever possible, comparable evidence should not be presented without identifying the holdings to allow adjustments for differences. Rent determination is not an exact science and rent proposals should therefore never be presented on a take it or leave it basis that precludes the opportunity for discussion and negotiation.

“The new rent system will be based on the productive capacity of the holding and whilst we wait for the new system to be finalised, those conducting rent reviews should bear in mind that rents should always be fair and economically justifiable. If agreement cannot be reached, STFA would always recommend the use of expert determination or even arbitration with the Land Court as a last resort.

The Guide is available at https://landcommission.gov.scot/tenant-farming/reviews-and-reports/

 

 

 

 

TENANTS URGED TO MAKE UP LOST TIME WITH AMNESTY

TENANTS URGED TO MAKE UP LOST TIME WITH AMNESTY

 

Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

News Release

28th August 2018

TENANTS URGED TO MAKE UP LOST TIME WITH AMNESTY

 

The Scottish Tenant Farmers Association is using this week’s tenants’ amnesty awareness campaign to urge tenant farmers to take advantage of the one-off opportunity for tenants to register improvements they have made on their farms, so they will be eligible for compensation should the tenancy come to an end. The 3-year amnesty has now less than 2 years to run and, with only a fraction of Scotland’s the 5000 or so tenants having made a start and even smaller numbers having completed the process, time is running short.

The amnesty applies to all types of tenancy where improvements have been carried out without the necessary notices and consents which would qualify them for waygo compensation. It will not, however, apply where the landlord objected to the original improvement notice or if the improvement has been carried out in a manner significantly different from the original notice.

The improvement must be judged “fair and equitable for compensation to be payable and the landlord can object if he carried out the improvement in whole or in part or allowed a benefit to the tenant in consideration of his carrying out the improvement.

STFA Chairman Christopher Nicholson commented; “STFA views this as one of the most important reforms to come out of the 2016 Act. It will not only ensure that tenants can receive fair compensation for their improvements, but it will also establish a record of improvements that must be ‘black patched’ or disregarded at rent reviews. Many tenants on secure tenancies may consider that their tenancies will never come to an end and the amnesty not worth bothering about. However, although that may be the case, rents are soon to be based on the productive capacity of the holding and identifying tenant’s improvements so they can be disregarded will be crucial. After all no one wants to be rented on their own improvements.

“It is up to the tenant to initiate the process and this may involve a fair bit of work in looking out evidence, such as invoices and past correspondence, to show the tenant or his predecessors carried out the improvements. The more evidence that can be put together, the easier it will be to prove that it is fair and equitable that compensation should be paid.

“We would advise tenants to cast the net far and wide when making their list of improvements, as the definition of an improvement is broad, being ‘any building or structure affixed to land and any works on, in, over or under land’. As well as buildings, housing, fencing and other obvious items; improvements to land, such as ditches, drainage, removal of stones and other obstacles to cultivation; field boundaries; access improvements; and provision of services should also be included. It is better to include too much rather than too little, as there will be no second chances if any improvements are missed.’

“To cut back on cost, most tenants should try and do the legwork themselves in compiling a list of improvements and looking for evidence, after all they know their own farms best. On the other hand, professional assistance will probably be needed for the more technical tasks, evaluating improvements to judge which will meet the fair and equitable test, and, presenting the amnesty notice to the landlord and negotiating improvements to be registered. The final agreement is a legal document and should also be professionally checked.

“Finally, there are plenty sources of advice available and TFC’s Code of Practice should be read and followed. It should also be noted that, although it is the tenant’s responsibility to initiate the amnesty discussion, thereafter landlords and tenants should jointly prepare an agreed list of improvements and both parties should assemble and be prepared to share relevant documents and other evidence past agreements and transactions relating to improvements. In other words, there is an expectation that this should be a co-operative and consensual process.

“The amnesty has the backing of the whole industry and no tenant should feel nervous about approaching his landlord on the matter, after all, it was originally the brainchild of Scottish Land and Estates and most landlords will be prepared for it.”

 

For further information contact:

Christopher Nicholson           01988 500429

Angus McCall                          07767 756840

 

 

STFA WELCOMES INDUSTRY AMNESTY CAMPAIGN

STFA WELCOMES INDUSTRY AMNESTY CAMPAIGN

Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

News Release

26th August 2018

 

STFA WELCOMES INDUSTRY AMNESTY CAMPAIGN

This Monday sees the launch of a week-long campaign by the industry to raise awareness of the amnesty on registering improvements that tenant farmers may have made to their properties and land. The campaign will be mainly conducted through the press and social media and aims to emphasise the importance of the amnesty period which started on 13 June 2017 and lasts for 3 years. A key message of the campaign will be to highlight that the amnesty is not only essential to gain agreement on improvements for which the tenant can claim compensation at the end of the tenancy, but also for rent reviews. A key principle has always been that a tenant should not be expected to pay rent on his own improvements.

The week-long campaign will feature video interviews with Crown Estate tenant Brian Shaw and his factor Mark Fogden from Savills who will speak about their experiences in conducting the amnesty, and it will also promote the Tenant Farming Commissioner’s Code of Practice.

The amnesty is one of the provisions of the Land Reform Act (Scotland) 2016 and allows for certain past improvements carried out by the tenant to be eligible for waygo despite missing notices or consents. The amnesty will last only for a 3 year period during which a tenant may give notice to his landlord that he intends to claim compensation at waygo for certain existing improvements.

Commenting on the campaign, STFA Chairman Christopher Nicholson said: “We are delighted that the whole industry is getting behind this move to encourage tenants to take part in the amnesty. The clock is ticking fast as STFA and tenants should remember that they are responsible for initiating the process and should do so as soon as possible.

“The fact that this is an industry backed initiative, landlords, tenants, lawyers and land agents as well as the Scottish Government, should give even the most diffident tenant the confidence to approach his landlord and register his improvements. Individuals can do much of the work themselves, but there is plenty of advice and guidance available, so our message is – don’t delay. The nights are drawing in and there will soon be time to devote to compiling a list of improvements and supporting evidence, so no excuses!”

 

 

 

 

STFA calls for feedstuffs to go to livestock not renewable energy during fodder crisis

STFA calls for feedstuffs to go to livestock not renewable energy during fodder crisis

Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

News Release

 1st July 2018

STFA calls for feedstuffs to go to livestock not renewable energy during fodder crisis

The Scottish Tenant Association is appealing to the Scottish Government for assistance in tackling the looming fodder crisis in the livestock sector which has occurred as a consequence of the continuing drought and hot weather.

In a letter to Cab Sec Fergus Ewing, STFA has said that with grass becoming increasingly scarce on most farms there are major concerns about maintaining grazing livestock and providing sufficient fodder for the winter months.  Not only are fodder crops lighter than usual, but many farmers are being forced to graze silage fields and some are already eating into winter feed stores to keep stock going.  STFA has requested an early meeting with the Cab. Sec. to discuss ways to help the livestock sector weather the next few months, especially with the uncertainties surrounding Brexit looming next Spring.

Commenting on the situation STFA Chairman Christopher Nicholson said: “The picture being painted from Shetland to Wigtownshire is one of an impending crisis with grass growth at a virtual standstill, despite some welcome rain last week, and hay and silage crops between half and two thirds of normal. Dairy farmers are having to eat into winter silage rations, buy whole crop silage or face drying off or selling cows to maintain production.  The grass shortage has hit cattle markets and the autumn store lamb sales face uncertain trade.

“Traditionally, in times of fodder scarcity, we were able to utilise arable by-products such as straw, carrots potatoes etc and supplement with concentrates or distillery by products such as draff and pot ale syrup.  These alternative feeds are now difficult and prohibitively expensive to source; draff is in short supply for a number of reasons, straw also looks like being equally scarce and, as we have stated before, the situation is being exacerbated by tens of thousands of acres of crop as well as tons of distillery by-products being diverted towards the renewable energy sector in supplying AD plants and biomass boilers.

“AD plants are also suffering from lighter than expected rye crops and are in competition in in the fodder market with livestock producers who they will invariably outbid. STFA is worried that that this situation will either lead to welfare issues in the coming months or to financial difficulties as producers are forced to off load stock onto a falling market.  Even if we get sufficient rain to get crops moving again over the next few weeks, it will be too late to fill feedstores.   Drought is also evident in other countries so importing feedstuffs may not be an option even if it were affordable.

“STFA will be meeting Fergus Ewing at the Black Isle Show to discuss what measures could be taken to ensure that provision is for adequate food supplies to take our livestock, particularly breeding livestock, through the coming weeks and over the winter.  We are entering a crisis situation and the government will have to intervene if we are not going to find irreparable damage done to the Scottish livestock, especially with the possibility of entering into a Brexit disaster zone in a few months’ time.  In particular STFA will be exploring ways of diverting feedstuffs from renewable energy towards the livestock market to preserve the future of livestock production in Scotland.

“The Scottish Government has had a good track record over the past couple of years in bringing forward loans and STFA will be urging Fergus Ewing to continue to do so ensuring that payments through agricultural and environmental schemes arrive on time. These are exceptional times and the farming community will find budgets and cash flows under extreme pressure over the coming months.”

 

 

 

CROWN ESTATE PLANS INVESTMENT IN TENANTED FARMS

Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

News Release

 

18th July 2018

CROWN ESTATE PLANS INVESTMENT  IN TENANTED FARMS

The Scottish Tenant Farmers Association has welcomed the announcement last week that the Crown Estate Scotland Scotland is investing £4.5 million over two years in a range of activity on its four rural estates, including new buildings and infrastructure.

The investment is intended to go towards upgrading, renewing and replacing agricultural infrastructure as part of the organisation’s ongoing efforts to provide excellent tenant service. Some of the works will support tenants in developing and diversifying their businesses, many of whom are situated in remote rural locations.

It is understood that the CES is encouraging a tenant to retire in order to make another unit available to another tenant farmer.

STFA also is pleased to note that CES is in the process of carrying out a record of condition over its agricultural, residential and commercial units on the rural estates in response to recommendations made by the tenants’ representative working group.

Commenting on the situation STFA Director Angus McCall said; “It is heartening to see Scotland’s largest landowner investing so heavily in its rural estates and we hope this will provide an example to other estates. Farming businesses require continuing investment if they are to remain competitive and landlords should take a long-term view of estate management and either invest in the farm infrastructure themselves or to provide incentives to encourage their tenants to invest.

“STFA does, however, remain concerned that CES may continue to consider selling vacant tenanted farms to raise capital as has happened recently with Auchenhalrig Rarm on the Fochaber Estate as well, as another couple of farm on Applegirth. As previously stated by STFA, it makes no sense for a publicly owned body such as Crown Estate Scotland to sell a 280ac tenanted farm while other public agencies are scratching around to find scraps of land which could be used to help young people to make a start in farming.

“STFA has recommended that, if CES requires to raise capital to reinvest in the Rural Estates it should either sell off some of its retail and office units or sell tenanted farms to existing long term tenants with successors. This will help provide stability, encourage investment in agricultural units and also help meet Scottish targets for greater diversity of land ownership.

“In a further welcome move the CES has recognised the need to include its agricultural tenants in feeding in ideas and comments to discussions on a long term rural estate strategy. However, STFA believes that the agricultural tenant should also be consulted and informed on any discussions relating to major policy or land use changes contemplated by the CES management board.”