On 22 January, the Scottish Government published an interesting map showing the density of tenanted agricultural land per parish (1162kb pdf here). What struck me about the map was the apparent coincidence of those parishes with >75% of the land tenanted with the locations of Scotland’s largest landed estates. So I produced another map, overlaying the ownership boundaries with the parishes and the coincidence is real. What this maps shows is that the pattern of farm tenancies is a product of the pattern of private landownership and has nothing to do with agricultural conditions. Recent reports in the press have claimed that the right to buy being pursued by tenant farmers is a “minority quest”. There is more than one minority, however.

The full map with overlay can be downloaded here (1.3Mb pdf)

638 Comments

  1. yes the Estates are letting land, they are letting loads of land, mostly on seasonal lets to big payers ie. big farmers. The land agents and lairds know this, but they insist that the ARTB is holding things back… RUBBISH. They say that the new entrant cant get in because of the threat of ARTB….RUBBISH. Everyone knows that if the ARTB comes in then it will be for 91 act tenants. So when you read Doug McAdam’s letter in the SF and the article attached then it is clear that the elite are desperate to hold onto power and will twist the facts in an attempt to derail all the hard work done by the MAJORITY of 91 tenants and land reformers campaigning for the ARTB.
    P.S the vast majority of tenanted land is ‘privately owned’ if a tenant was able to buy their farm then that land would still be ‘privately owned’ so where did this daft notion come from that this land could never ever be let again. Is it because it wouldn’t be the ‘right kind’ of private owner? Bring on land reform.

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  2. Andy, do you think you could overlay that with a rural poverty map?
    tax credit recipients , car ownership etc?

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  3. Where a landlord owns several farms which he never sets foot on, or if the land is held in a trust, it should not be classified as private property.
    It is clearly commercial property, therefore not subject to human rights legislation.

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  4. 18 names, hundreds of tenant farmers.

    My guess would be poor housing, undemocratic decision making, little or no investment by the owners, run down farms, feudal land agents, low morale….
    Urgent reform is required for those of us living in these conditions and giving the tenant farmer the absolute right to buy sooner rather than later would address the imbalance as shown on this map. Why should we oppressed by these useless landowners for a month longer?

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  5. It’s good to see that the same gross exaggerations are still in evidence. It s hardly a surprise that some parishes ave a high % of tenanted land where larger estates exist. SLE released data sometime ago (link somewhere on previous blog) demonstrating that the larger estates were fully let – with 1991 tenancies and LDTs / SLDTs not the grazing licences suggested above. Despite suggestions to the contrary a shift to owner occupation via ARTB will not result in a plethora of lettings other than short term arrangements. Quoting the continent (as has been done by Andy before) with its intra family lettings and short term arrangements is not relevant if you want let farms capable of themselves being a business rather than an adjunct to an already owned land. The idea that all these new owners, having enjoyed ARTB themselves, are going to become the new landlords is disingenuous. If it were true why are the rates of letting so low in parishes with high rates of owner occupation? The one class of owner least likely to let at present is the owner occupier. I’ve spoken to a number and they look in at the ARTB debate and then run for the hills.

    And Hector ECHR applies to all property and all people. Nothing is excluded. Government can of course breach those in the public interest but I’m yet to see a case based on that rather than private interest as regards ARTB.

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    • It is sad to see the same gross twisting of the facts. To suggest that we are talking about “all these new owners becoming the new landlords” is disingenuous. But the gold star for twisting has to go to the ‘suggestion’ that all these lairds and owner occupiers looking to let land are desperate to give out secure tenancies! For goodness sake, show some respect to Richard Lochhead’s announcement that ARTB will only be considered for 91 acts. “Owner occupiers running for the hills” very colourful indeed.
      The ARTB debate has been narrowed down to improve the conditions of 91act tenants NOT as a mechanism to specifically increase let land. There are other parts of the holdings review to deal with that. Muddying the waters deliberately to achieve the Status Quo is such poor show, and really exposes a blatant disregard for tenant farmers.

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      • SS

        Well Andy was and Dr Hunter suggested freedom of contract post ARTB suggesting a new vibrant market. So which is it? I’m not suggesting anyone will grant a 1991 Act tenancy in the future – why on earth would they. However you listen to aspiring farmers or those growing their business and they want reasonable terms – 10,15, 20 years plus. That requires an owner who has no real ambition to farm that land. To have stable tenancies of a good duration you need a landlord class. You may not like it, the reformers may not like it but its common sense.

        So ARTB is a tool to help tenants with poor relationships. Yeah right! The Cab Sec said “good landlords have nothing to fear from ARTB”. Sorry but ARTB won’t discriminate. If the tenant thinks it will be to their advantage – for whatever reason – then they’d be daft not to exploit it if offered. If you want to sort issues in the current law then lets talk about that. You don’t need to blow the system asunder to do that.

        And the old chestnut. It only applies to 1991 Act tenancies. Yeah now it might. But what about in 20 years when LDTs come to an end? If you trample through property rights now the idea that anyone well advised would let land under any agreement for any term is either you kidding yourself or more likely trying to kid others.

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  6. ARTB may not lead to more lettings, and why should it. The sooner that tenant farmers become owners and control their own destiny, the sooner scotland will thrive, free of the feudal yoke.
    As to ECHR, perhaps a true european court may differ.

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    • What don’t you control now hector? Assuming you have a 1991 act lease that’s bomb proof, you can hand it on, you’ve freedom of cropping etc. Theres plenty of aspiring farmers who’d like to control their destiny in that way.

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      • “ARTB wont discriminate” ? investment survey, absentee status, land court history, rental rates as per tenants improvements and parish ownership monopoly. Any of these criteria tickle your fancy Andrew?
        Thanks for answering my question on lairds greater suitability for letting land “landlord class, its ‘common’ sense”! wow…. is that ironic? or hurtful sarcasm?
        Glad that the penny has dropped regarding ARTB only being considered for 91 acts. Now you are spinning the possibility of something different happening in 20 years, well sorry Andrew but i cant help you with that.
        As for “freedom of cropping” halleluiah! it wasn’t that long ago here that the factor would check your tattie drills to make sure they were running in the right direction for the pheasants to take off. Now i know that doesn’t happen now, but what about in 20 years time when land reform has died down?

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  7. In a 91 act tenancy, the tenant is hamstrung re investment as he cannot offer security to the bank.
    Also, he can expect hefty rent increases post the moonzie case way beyond his ability to pay.
    This spring we have seen unprecedented financial pressure thanks to 2 bad harvests and a terrible winter, yet factors were still seeking rent increases. And with grain prices back to 1995 levels when costs were 1/3 of today..
    A lot of tenants i know were anti ARTB until this latest landlord outrage.

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    • Hector

      I think you may well find the interest more expensive than rent. I’ve spoken to tenants and a bank about borrowing and security. If the business case and Cashflow are good then ownership not required. Banks lend to businesses without land / capital assets all the time in other sectors and they don’t have the Cashflow comfort of SFP each year.

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  8. Andrew

    How can you then account for the low number of farm tenants who have not registered their pre –
    Emptive right to buy . Does not look like they want to buy their farm therefore landlords have nothing to fear or do you think that there is a ‘. Fear factor. ‘ within farm tenants

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    • Probably because in the event of sale the landlord would very often sell to the tenant in any case. The pre-emptive right simply put into law what largely happened anyway. I’ve never heard of resistance to registration by tenants of that right.

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      • Ha, there are plenty tenants who are scared to register for RTB as they fear loss of short term grazings, sldt land etc.
        These are the invisible strings which the puppet masters use to control their “flock”.

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  9. Oops

    Double negative . Highs and lows mixed . Sorry, but you know what I mean

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  10. Andrew ,

    Estates still even dictate what colour of paint that the farm tenant can paint the farmhouse and steading with .

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  11. Andrew, what use is the sfp when the laird is now demanding it post moonzie? it is rapidly devalueing anyway.
    Banks may lend money unsecured, but you should know what that means; punitive interest rates.
    Wonga .com are delighted to lend without security, but at 5000% interest.
    In any case, these are side issues, we need to rid scotland of landlords and factors, end of.

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    • Hector

      The SFP is not demanded as part of the rent. As you will have read Moonzie no doubt you know that.

      The lender in question was high street bank. Farming still holds favourable status so lower interest rate than most and lower fees. So no need for Wonga just yet.

      Your final statement admirably clear – if rather bitter. Not so great for farming in general and those without a farm already in particular.

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      • If you thought that one was rather bitter Andrew, you should have seen hector’s comment on the previous thread “LRV really doesnt sound nearly vindictive enough against the landed gentry, very disappointing.”

        Said it all, really …

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  12. Andrew, How do new zealand and australia manage to have world beating agri sectors where landlords and factors were eliminated over 100 years ago?
    They are the lead weight dragging us all down

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    • Hector

      Scale, China, currency values, lower animal welfare standards etc etc. a quite different world in which land tenure is, I very much suspect, not a key factor.

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  13. just a quick question. Is anybody aware of a ‘Lawyer type’ blog where i can go for some light relief/personal entertainment? i don’t really know much about the subject of law, but it would be a bit of fun for me, and i could use it to have some respite from the serious subject of land reform where my home and livelihood are at stake.

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  14. Slurry Stirrer,

    Don’t let the trolls/ shills upset you. Some have too much time on their hands and could be put to better use doing the ironing or dusting instead of attempting diversion tactics to distract from their ignorance of grass roots level tenant farming.
    You might find them on “Brain Surgery for Experts’ forums as well.

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    • If there is ignorance, wouldn’t it be better to educate people rather than just say “But out, you don’t know anything about it, it’s none of your business”? After all, the vote on ARTB won’t be taken amongst an exclusive group of tenant farmers but by the MSPs many of whom know zilch about farming (and represent constituents who care even less).

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  15. Funny how you never hear from an actual landlord, only their hired guns.
    Of course they will be sunning themselves in the cayman islands or klosters, as far away as possible from their crumbling farms which they describe as “private property”.

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  16. Hebridean Farmer

    Interesting thought Hector about the overlay of poverty data etc.
    As the UK, and Scotland in particular, has data to show that we suffer badly from inequality (yes, I know some of you have a problem understanding all this ! ) this would be a very interesting overlay indeed.
    The map and what they can deduce from it is all part of fact finding for the Ag Holdings Review Group, and we await the survey results and the telephone follow-ups that the MSPs have asked for to enlighten them. Good to know they will be well informed by Tenant Farmers when they make decisions on ARTB.

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  17. Hector

    Do you not realise that you are taking on the Establishment . The Establishment has made ‘ the law of the land ‘ for several centuries . They think that they are untouchable .

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    • The illuminati will be involved next. Have you not looked at the make up of the Scottish political scene recently? The idea that they are part of an establishment propping up an established landowner class is frankly a bit laughable.

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  18. Yes, untouchable. they are so mixed up, highly allergic to owner occupation of farms yet all for private ownership. Desperate for a thriving tenanted sector yet hell bent on taking land back in hand. Declare themselves part of the community yet live overseas.
    I don’t blame them for believing that the current system is the only option, it has been educated into them from a young age. There is simply no vision which is capable of conceding a little power. And all the while the factors tell us what is good for us. They wheel out pet tenants all smiles and happy, bemoaning the ARTB. If only we knew the promises made before the cameras turned up.
    The debate is so far apart, how amusing it would be if some tenants could produce a big laird to come out and say that ARTB would be good for fragile communities! Anayway we tenants have to show the MSP’s that there is a vision beyond the “LANDLORD CLASS”

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    • SS
      We’ve discussed this before but for the record I am, and landowners in general, are in no way “allergic” to owner occupation. What we want to see is all tenure types as they are necessary for a vibrant agriculture. What I am allergic to is the idea that one person can force another to sell their property to them. That will completely destroy one tenure option (letting) over a relatively short time to the detriment of agriculture as a whole.

      You talk of wheeling out smiling tenants. Has it perhaps occurred to you that your view of the world is not shared by many of your fellow tenants? In my experience it is not.

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      • Why then is it that owner occupiers are disgruntled with the SLaE machine? They tell me that it is because too much weight and aggression is focused on fighting for Big Estate survival.
        “My view of the world”? you are being a bit dramatic there, also factually inaccurate. These are the views shared by the vast majority of tenants, just look at a pole done of tenant farmers at an STFA event. More than 72% in favour of ARTB. Almost all wanted radical tenancy reform. I just happen to be one of them, not specifically my views.
        So i would put it to you Andrew that you are in no position to comment on the wishes of tenant farmers, you are after all a factor with a lot of power. Therefore i will choose and encourage others not to believe your spin on tenants views. As for the overhaul of the tenanted sector having any detrimental effect on the agricultural industry, i will not try and persuade you otherwise, because i understand that you are in a paid position to fight all the way for as you put it the “LANDLORD CLASS”

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        • SS
          I’ve seen no evidence of such concern with SLEs position amongst owner occupiers. I think the defence of property rights is probably something that concerns them as much as a larger estate owner.

          I don’t think I’m not entitled to a view on tenant farmers views just because of my role. To the best of my knowledge the last formal poll carried out by STFA did not show majority support for ARTB. But there’s an important point here. Even if a majority of tenants (holding a certain type of tenancy) did favour ARTB does that mean it should be implemented. Perhaps not. We should, and are, looking to what is best for the agricultural sector as a whole. That will mean that not everyone gets what they want. For instance many landowners would like to reduce the rights of 1991 Act tenancies and introduce freedom of contract for all new ones arguing that this will envigourate the sector. But, and I prejudge the Cab Secs review group, they won’t get that. And perhaps shouldn’t. So just wanting something is very different from it being in the interests of the sector.

          I know you argue that ARTB would be good for farming. You are entitled to that view but I don’t think it should be supported by the fact that it would be popular with those tenants who stand to gain most.

          Lets just clarify the landlord class thing. My point is that if you want long term fully equipped farm lets then you need people who see themselves as landlords and not simply farmers letting short term whilst they organise affairs etc. we need to remove the pejorative inference in the term “landlord”. I know it plays well for you politically but its hardly going to encourage potential landlords to opt in.

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          • that’s exactly the problem, there are those still minded that Landlords have to be encouraged to opt in. As if they still hold the crucial vote.
            I think we need to look into the future, possibly an independent Scotland where there could be a sliding scale land tax, the Scottish Affairs committee are promising to stop tax dodging /charitable status, subsidy hoovering Landed Estates. MSPs have a duty to look into falling populations in remote fragile areas of Scotland. We have a massive beef crisis on our hands, overgrazing by deer. Land reform is on everyone’s lips, we are being asked to give our thoughts, we try to do it and all we face is criticism from the powerful landed elite. Yet you and your organisation offer nothing in the way of reform, only wanting to keep things just the way they are. Come on Andrew tell us your vision of land reform, what is it that the landlords are instructing you to pump into the debate. Surely its not just attack and distract.

  19. Andrew

    Are you trying to tell me that titled people with. ‘ landed interests ‘ did not guide and influence the ownership of land through Parliament and the HOUSE OF Lords ??.

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    • GD
      The House of Lords is irrelevant. These are devolved matters and at the last time of looking Holyrood didn’t look like a natural source of support for landowners. So perhaps less of the establishment conspiracy theories as they don’t really wash.

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  20. Excuse me, but it was the house of lords who delivered the final verdict on the salvesen riddell case, the biggest travesty of justice yet seen by the scottish parliament.
    The house of lords also defeated the land tax bill four times in 1910–15 which would have eradicated landlordism forever.
    As to sfp, you mentioned it was not part of the rent, but lord gill thought otherwise, read the moonzie judgement.
    Letting land may have a place in agriculture, but it should only be 5% of the area, not the current 30%

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    • 100% spot on Hector.

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      • The final verdict in the Salvesen case wasn’t the House of Lords. It was the Supreme Court.

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        • Whats in a name?, they are one and the same.

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          • Yes I believe that the judges of the House of Lords on its last day as a court became the judges of the Supreme Court on its first day. But for decades (if not longer but certainly long before the time of anyone who was a law lord on its last day as a court) the law lords have been appointed as professional judges and took no part in the legislative functions of the HoL. The law lords bore no resemblance latterly to Victorian dukes etc. who undoubtedly did own big estates and no doubt frequently voted accordingly.

    • Hector
      I have read Moonzie and Neil will correct me if wrong but the gist of Lord Gill’s point was that farmers customarily include income from SFP when tendering a rent. That is a decision for the bidder. As the law directs reference to the open market rent (subject to disregards) then those rents form the basis of your comparable evidence. So, the landlord is not stealing SFP its a fact of life in a subsidised industry.

      And letting at 5% eh? Great for those looking to get in or expand. Very forward thinking.

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      • Your interpretation of Lord Gill in Moonzie is spot on, Andrew.

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      • So you now admit that landlords include sfp in the rent demand.
        Thats what i said all along.
        The sfp was never intended to fund the lifestyle of landlords, but that is the reality.

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        • Hector
          Read what I said again. Those tendering a rent tend to take account of what income they an generate from the farm in question. This includes SFP amongst other things. Landlords don’t seek the inclusion of any specific income source. A landlord looking to review a rent will look at comparable evidence of rents offered / paid. This is an important distinction.

          The Supreme Ct is not the same as the House of Lords as I imagine you well no. It up held the law. Clearly you feel some are deserving of rights and others not. Thank fully we live in a modern democracy with a strong legal framework. What amazes me is how casually some commentators in the and reform debate disregard the importance of up holding this legal certainty. Start under mining this and wider negative consequences develop.

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          • So tell me, what is the difference between the house of lords and the supreme court?
            Ah , legal certainty, that old chestnut.
            The only people with legal certainty are landlords, the rest of us have to live with uncertainty with all its negative effects on business and society.

          • Hebridean Farmer

            Land Reformers strive to secure the best outcome for the most amount of people.
            We take seriously the data that demonstrates exactly what the consequences are of the current pattern of land ownership .We recognise that Scotland is a country of inequality, and we know that poor health and poor outcomes follow countries with inequality. We delve into the reasons why so few people have a stake in the ownership of Scotland, and make suggestions for change,
            We come up against individuals and organisations such as Scottish Landed Estates who wish for things to remain the same, and with these very notions from such people we can make our case for land reform.
            A.H. it was the very organisation that you support that first used the “majority of tenant Famers want ……” now you cry the opposite. It was that same organisation that called for freedom of contract, and when a vehicle is suggested that could facilitate such a thing, they cry it down. As Hector said, freedom of contract works when there are many many more land owners, but some only want the “Landlord class” of owners.
            In my area we have an overseas land owner who has hardly stepped foot on the place, cleared off every head of livestock and relocated farm workers. He has changed the culture, economics and population of the area, all for the worse. He is within the law, in that strong legal framework that some are happy with.
            Things need to change . Scottish Landed Estates has a strong voice for a few people, but the majority of Scottish people have voted for change, and our MSPs are doing what they have been asked to do, and that is to make Scotland a fairer country to live in. We need Land Reform to turn our country around so that more people can have a stake in the land , feel empowered and the rest will come automatically.

          • Hector
            The Supreme Court is the final court of appeal for the UK. The House of Lords is a revising chamber for UK legislation but is ultimately subservient t the Commons. If your suggesting that the Supreme Court are a bunch of establishment flunkies I suggest you take it up with them. Good luck!
            Legal certainty is important. It’s not correct to say you don’t have legal certainty as a tenant. The law of Ag holdings is there and clear. It’s also offers a much greater panoply of protections for the tenant than any other tenancy type I can think of. And we’ve got our own court to uphold it.
            So plenty of certainty which is important for long term confidence. I not sure i’m aware of any serious commentators who would suggest otherwise.

      • Yes i am forward thinking, i want to see land farmed for the long term by owner occupiers and not raped by short term contracts or tenancies.
        It is SL&E who want to turn the clock back to victorian times of freedom of contract and the resultant collapse of uk agriculture.

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        • Why would SLE want to engender the collapse of UK agriculture?

          You could argue that it’s you that wants to go back in time by halting the trend towards larger holdings. And it’s not just SLE who argues for freedom of contract but Jim Hunter as well.

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          • SL&e are self interested and since most of them dont farm, a collapse is immaterial.
            However, i was referring to the collapse of farming which freedom of contract brought about in late victorian times. The tenant farmers had no freedom to contract, their only freedom was to emigrate, which they did by the thousand , leaving britain very vulnerable, as the govt found out in 1916.
            And please dont mis call jim hunter, he is calling for freedom of contract AFTER land reform, not before.

    • Hebridean Farmer

      You know your stuff Hector …..well done !

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      • hector said “since most of them [members of SLE] dont farm, a collapse is immaterial.”

        Would Andrew Howard like to comment on that?

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        • The supreme court only began about 1999, not decades ago.
          Its the same judges as the house of lords had.

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        • Neil
          Happy to. Many SLE members do farm so they have a direct link. Regardless of that its slightly nonsensical to suggest we’d benefit from a collapse in farming given the impact this would have on tenant farmers and the wider rural economy. Most estates run as businesses which means the healthier the rural economy, including farming, the better.
          Clearly I wasn’t around in Victorian times but I think its stretching it a bit to blame the landlord tenant system for a downturn in agricultural commodity prices in the latter part of the 19C. Britain was already an open economy, no corn laws etc, so I’m afraid the US prairies and South America more likely suspects. Having said that I fear some of this blog would happily ascribe any of the worlds ills to landownership patterns.

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          • Mr howard, you are the master of putting words in other peoples mouths.
            Please point out where i said that your members would benefit from a collapse of agriculture?
            The landlords in victorian times did not set out to ruin agriculture, but they certainly did so.
            By relentless rent racking and continual aquisition of tenants improvements, profitable farming became impossible in britain.
            On top of that was the covering of the country with pheasants and deer , all living off the farmers crops, which further rendered farming unprofitable.
            Since the landed establishment held all the cards , nothing could be done but emigrate.
            When war broke out in 1914, 4.5 million acres of arable land were in tumbledown pasture, and britain was close to famine by late 1916.
            So landlords ruined farming, and nearly lost us the war, and actually eventually ruined themselves.
            And by returning to freedom of contract, you want to do it all again.

          • Hector
            The suggestion was a collapse was “immaterial” to landowners. I think this adds up to the same thing – that we’re not bothered or not harmed by it. There was no intention to misinterpret. My central point remains, the more successful the rural sector, including farming, the better for landowners and farmers of all hues alike.
            I think other factors may have played a role in food availability during the war than freedom of contract. German attacks on shipping being the main one.
            If you look higher up the blog you’ll see I didn’t call for FoC. I said some landowners might like that but that it was unlikely. Flexibility for parties to agree their terms is very helpful but legislation would be sensible to address certain protections (like compensation for improvements) to ensure the imbalance in supply and demand does not lead to unfairness.

  21. Andrew

    I did not mean recent history . My concern is that over the last two hundred years of law-making , ‘ landed interests ‘ skewed decisions in favour of the landed gentry . I assume that there were very few working class people to fill the seats of power , therefore a turkey voting for Christmas comes to mind .

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  22. Did anybody see Scandamania on ch4 last night? Amazing attitude towards everything, very positive and the Danes summed it up as ownership. Fair ownership throughout the country, then everyone is onside with projects. The programe made me want to emigrate.

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  23. Andrew

    History is a wonderful subject to learn from .
    Could you tell us about the reason and introduction of the Corn Laws of 1804 ? .

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    • GD
      I am no historian – and as you probably are and waiting for me to trip up i tread carefully! The protection of landowners interests. They dominated the political scene and used that power to ensure cheap imports didn’t reduce the value / profitability of their estates.
      But that was 200 years ago so i’m curious to know what lessons you hope to draw now given there aren’t trading constraints of that type and landowners most certainly don’t control the political class.

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      • Yes, the corn laws were all about keeping rents up, and if the working man couldnt afford bread….tough!
        That lairdy compassion really brings a tear to your eye.

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        • Hector
          if modern Scotland is going to be about fighting wrongs of 200 years ago which have long since worked themselves through then we’re going to get in quite a pickle.
          I’d also be interested to know how many farmers – tenants or owners – objected to the corn laws. One suspects the support of the grain price held benefits to them even if there was rent to pay.

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          • If those wrongs were in the past, you would be correct, but we in scotland still await the reforms given to irish farmers in 1880, and its catch up time.

  24. Interesting discussion. The Moonzie decision recognised that the availability of farm subsidies is a consideration when setting farm rents. This is unsurprising from an economic point of view. All subsidies are capitalised into land values and the extent to which this occurs depends on land supply and whether subsidies are linked to land or can be traded. With the new area-based payments, subsidy will be more capitalised than previously. Since the very beginning of the CAP, subsidies have been capitalised into land values which is why farmland in recent years has provided a better return that gold or the FTSE 100. The consequence of this for tenants is that rents are higher than they would be in the absence of subsidies and the landlord ends up financially better of as a consequence (higher rents and higher land value) just like the owner-occupier.

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    • Alan
      I agree with what you say but those increases in rent are becuause the income of the farmer goes up and they choose to use some of that in rents or the purchase of land. It would be very difficult to disassociate the impact of subsidising a production system on the assets used to produce. Subsidies undoubtedly affect all aspects of the farming system from land to fertiliser to tractors all of which would probably be cheaper were it not for subsidies on food production.

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      • It tends not to affect other inputs because they are produced and consumed in a competitive market of supply and demand. If the red tractor is too expensive, you can buy the green one. If green ones get too expensive, a new business could set up selling imports from Italy etc. Land, however is a unique factor because it is a monopoly, fixed in supply and not subject to competitive pricing (you can’t make more land – well you can in theory..). Subsidies are tied to land (now more tied than before). They are not tied to tractors and fertiliser. The ultimate winners in land markets where value is underpinned by subsidies are landowners and banks. Everyone else has to pay an entry cost whether in rent or the price of farm produce.

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        • Alan
          You may well be correct although it’s amazing how prices tend to perk up when times are good which does make me wonder (competition or otherwise) whether suppliers prices would change if we all had less to spend.
          I can’t see a meaningful way of subsidising production that doesn’t ultimately find its way to land values. And it may seem odd but there’s little benefit to our business in such high land values. We don’t wish to sell so its not going to be crystalised and it does noting to aid profitability.

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          • Good to see that you discount the value of land with regard to profitability(rent) as I am reminded every rent review that the landlord requires a return on the capital invested in the land. A bit of investigation would uncover that a lot of land was acquired by means other than money many centuries ago.

            And yes I agree with you that our suppliers price their goods according to our incomes. Look at a graph of fertiliser prices versus grain prices over the last decade to see that

  25. Andrew

    Are tractors and fertiliser cheaper in New Zealand ?

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    • Machinery i think is more expensive, fertiliser I don’t know. i’m not sure that necessarily disproves me as NZ has the disadvantage of being thousands of miles from most centres of manufacture. The US might be a better comparison though of course it subsidises its farmers as well. If anyone knows i’d be interested to learn. My point could be wrong.

      Reply

  26. Hector

    Exactly . The landlords made sure that farm rents and their land values stayed up by making sure that cheaper grain could not enter Great Britain to feed the Nation properly . The landlords had huge power and influence in the House of Parliament making up the law on farmland because they litterally ran the country . That is why the remark from J D A williamson the landowner of Alvie and Dalraddy Estates who wrote in his submission to Scottish Parliament ‘ that the decline in our country started when those who own it ceased to run it ‘ rang alarm bells . Is this what Scotland wants for the future ? .

    Reply

  27. The germans would never have launched a u boat war if we had been self sufficient in food, which we could have been. In 1914 and 1939 we could only feed ourselves for 125 days out of 365 and
    thousands of sailors died bringing food which british farmers could have grown if they had had proper protection from landlords and their pheasants.

    Reply

    • Hector
      Could you point me to the authoritative text which sets out the argument that the reason we were not self sufficient in food in the run up to WW1 was landlordism and pheasants. I’d rather bought into the orthodoxy that it related to the British government’s belief (which could be a bit on and off) in free trade. Which free trade generally benefits nations whereas tarrifs etc (which you need for self sufficiency in just about anything because someone somewhere always has a competitive advantage) almost always ends in tears.
      Seems somewhat counter intuitive that landowners of all hues would leave 4.5m acres barren if they could make money from it. The source of the 4.5m acres would also be of interest.

      Reply

  28. Andrew, how long would i have to reside in Denmark before i would be allowed to purchase land? I know that Danes buy land in Scotland, and they face a land tax in Denmark for the land they own in Scotland. Just wondering if you do any advisory work for the sale of Scotland’s land to any Danes? I’m assuming from your statement above, that land in Denmark is more expensive than here?
    Regarding your comments above “increases in rent are because the income of the farmer goes up” This is a wild statement! i have been involved in many rent reviews and the farmers income is never considered on those terms. Rents are increased because more and more Estates are taking a strict business view on affairs, gone is the old attitude of it taking vast personal wealth to run an estate. The tenant farms pay towards the running of the estate. What also does not help is the new breed of ‘Land agent business’. The large Estate near me uses an agency supplied factor with a reinforcement factor sent in at rent review time, trouble is the Estate is charged a % rate on its turnover, so hefty rent hikes are good for short term gain.

    Reply

    • SS
      No idea if there is a residency qualification period before you can buy. There possibly is. Selling land to Danes is not part of my job. The last time i checked land in Denmark was significantly more expensive than it is here.
      Rising rents are not irrespective of farm income. The profitability of farming underpins rents. If you use a comparable system, as we do, then you look for the best evidence of what farm rents are offered at tender. Granted the evidence base is not always as wide as one would like partly because the markets is dead as a dodo as a result of this kind of discussion. Anyway that offered rent will be a farmers assessment of the value of the farm – clearly linked to expected income. That figure is then adjusted for the usual disregards – tenants improvements, scarcity, marriage value if applicable etc. And this works by and large. Between the late 1990’s and circa 2008 there were hardly any rent reviews so falling rents in real terms because of the many calamaties that befell the sector. Rents reviews started again when fortunes rose in 2008 and beyond. It neither correct nor fair to suggest that farm rents are forced up in the face of the background conditions.
      Now before i hear the shreiks of indignation i know that areas of Scotland have suffered bad weather in the last 18 months which will have hit the profits of some but not all farms. i would be surprised if that hasn’t had an impact on some reviews – though i hardly expect you to own up to it.
      I asked a number of agents recently how many were on a % of turnover fee basis. None. Maybe your experience is unusual. They were all on a time basis.

      Reply

      • From 1998 to 2006, farm produce halved in value, yet no landlord halved the rent, which shows the greed of the grasping class. Profits today are way below the early nineties, yet the scoundrels seek more rent.

        Reply

        • Hector
          Wheat price in 1998 about £75/t. Probably about the same in 2006. What about 2008 or 2012. I think we got a max price of £230/t. Even with input costs increasing that was a pretty good year.

          Reply

          • I think not, wheat was £150 in 1992 -1995, and £60 in 1999, yet rents never fell, and those disastrous prices prevailed till 2006.

            AND 2012 a pretty good year?????
            Wheat may have reached £230 but yields in most of britain were halved and forward sales were way below that level at £150.
            My neighbour told me he was 1000 tonnes short on 1000 acres, and if you told him to his face he was having a good year, i dont think he would have been responsible for his actions.

          • Hector
            We can argue about what prices when until the cows come home. Geographical variability also needs to be taken into account. 2012 was damp here but very good yields. I realise it wasn’t the same elsewhere. 2013 was a good year for some – not so for us becuase of drought. The point remains that real rents fell for many during the late 90’s and early 2000’s only going up again when agricultural fortunes increased.
            I will stick my neck out and say that the vast majority of 1991 Act rents are very fair. If you compare them with bids for LDT’s (adjusted) and the cost of ownership then they represent a perfectly reasonable cost per acre – and no different from the rents calculated under the English system which has more direct reference to the productive capacity of the holding.
            If you think it would be to your advantage why not promote a rent mechanism related to profit – or a base rent plus profit element for the landlord. Share the risk.

      • Andrew I know you speak from the background of a well managed estate and perhaps you did not persue reviews during the late 90s and early 2000s but I never missed one 3 yearly review courtesy of the land agents who ran my estate during that period. No appreciation of B.S.E. or £70/tonne grain prices there. An avaricious attitude might best describe my estate.

        Reply

        • I can of course only speak from own experience but i think the stats also show a real slowdown in reviews during that period. I do think regular rent reviews have something to be said for them if the resultant rent is considered reasonable by both parties. It encourages dialogue – hopefully respectful and businesslike – and should mean any changes are small. One of the problems of the big delay in review taking place at all is that some increases when they came were significant in % terms. The actual rent agreed may have been reasonable in real terms but no business really likes a significant change in one of its costs. We tended to use a stepped approach if this was an issue.

          Reply

          • If you truly want to share the risk and profit, which you dont, you would have to share the losses too.
            Most arable farmers in the east have lost around £100 per acre inc sfp in 2012, which means the rent has to come from capital. He must also live on capital.
            If you want the upside, you have to take the downside.

  29. The people who benefited primarily from the corn laws were farmers, most of whom in these days were tenants. The people who lost out were the working classes whose food prices were kept artificially high. So tenant farmers were responsible for the suffering of the urban poor.

    It was repeal of the corn laws (1846 I think) that stuffed agriculture in the later 19th century because prices collapsed. I’ve read that it was that and the contemporaneous development of the ocean going steam ship which accelerated imports from beyond Europe. So if anyone’s still got a beef about the state of Victorian agriculture, it would be about as logical to have a go at Caledonian MacBrayne as SL&E.

    Reply

  30. Neil,
    Tenant farmers can prosper in any situation if the rent is matched to the expected profit and they are left to get on with the job.
    There were many farmers who campaigned for the repeal of the corn laws, as they realised the injustice of high bread prices. It was the landlords who opposed reform, knowing full well that if corn fell, then rents must fall.
    However, when american grain flooded britain around 1880, rents were held up till leases expired, and most arable farmers were bankrupted , losing their homes and all the drainage and other improvements they had poured into the land. The flow of capital from tenant to landlord was extraordinary, perhaps £100 per acre over all of the arable uk, or a billion pounds in total.
    You will find very few farming families in arable areas who survived this extinction event.
    These farming families who avoided the workhouse headed for the colonies, taking their expertise with them. Estates were laid out to grass, workers paid off by the hundred, and the rural economy collapsed.
    Further info on bbc 1 now, paxman says it was 7 million acres idle.

    Reply

    • Hector
      The 4.5m acres may have come from British Agricultural History society although this was the acreage of increased pasture since 1874. Cause – periodic collapses in wheat prices. No profits, no investment and less arable acreage. Reversed during the war with government support to encourage the investment needed. Only read the paper quickly but will do so at leisure looking for the section which blames landlords.
      Fascinating though all this is is it really pertinent to where we are now? I would contend not. Thankfully different times.

      Reply

  31. Not as different as you think.
    Those conditions were caused by freedom of contract in land letting, which ruined so many farmers that agriculture collapsed.
    If they had had ownership of their improvements, the right to assign and an effective rent review process, they would have survived and kept their capital safe from grasping landlords.
    We tenants still seek these things.

    Reply

    • Hector
      You get compensation for improvements, you can bequeath your tenancy or assign it (class limited i accept but a fair quid pro quo for indefinite length i’d say) and the rent review process has only just been examined by an independent group.
      The long and short of this is you want to own your farm. All the arguments about historical injustices, grasping landlords and the rest of it is a veneer of public interest argument.
      I bid you a good night. Work I’m afraid beckons.

      Reply

    • hector – as Slurry Stirrer would say: RUBBISH!

      Agriculture collapsed because prices collapsed because the corn laws had been repealed.

      Reply

  32. Its more than just a veneer of public interest, they are VERY interested in how the landlords have ripped us all off.

    Reply

  33. Andrew

    Looks like Hector has a better handle on farm prices and margins than you do !!! .

    Reply

    • Wee shooie
      Not based on my experience. I suspect Hector would never confess to a good farming year.

      Reply

      • Certainly not with the landed vultures in earshot!!

        Reply

        • Not interested in the profit related rent then Hector?

          Reply

          • See answer above at 8.43 am

          • Hector
            Apologies didn’t see that. The sort of model used in other areas of property is a base rent – set at a lower level than current rents – with a profit or t/o related top up rent element. In the case of a loss then no top up so landlord obviously gets a lower rent than he otherwise would. In a bumper year landlord will exceed the rent he would have got because of a good top up. Clearly the larger share of profit goes to the tenant, the farmer. This helps mitigate risk for the tenant in poorer years and helps landlord feel he benefits from up turns. Would hope it would encourage more open-ness and dialogue and more mutual interest in investment. Wouldn’t work for all but might for some.

  34. Neil
    A Corn Law was first introduced in Britain in 1804, when the landowners, who dominated Parliament, sought to protect their profits by imposing a duty on imported corn .
    No mention of a tenant farmer being a Member of Parliament . Mystified how you can blame tenant farmers for the suffering of the urban poor , but then you would say that .

    Reply

    • GD, the corn laws were about keeping the prices of grain high. The people who sold grain and benefited from these high prices were farmers. The overwhelming majority of farmers in the first half of the 19th century were tenants. So tenant farmers prospered at the expense of the urban poor who suffered from artificially high food prices.

      Reply

  35. What is needed is fair rent, as the crofters work with, where rent is paid only for what the landlord has provided.

    Reply

    • Hector
      As you don’t pay rent on any improvements you’ve made that’s how the system works at present.

      Reply

      • In theory you are correct, but in practice we know that tenants improvements are always rented, especially if carried out under a previous lease.

        Reply

        • Hector, can you explain how you, the tenant’s, ” improvements are ALWAYS [emphasis added] rented, especially if carried out under a previous lease.”?

          Reply

        • Hector
          Bit of a generalisation. The law is clear so tenants shouldn’t agree to pay rent on improvements and vast majority don’t. Good point that improvements should be addressed when leases end / change.

          Reply

          • Andrew,I think the “vast majority ” would disagree.
            Factors should not have the nerve to ask for rent on improvements, but they always do.
            There is no depth they will not plumb in their search for revenue.

          • AH, been over this all before, factors up rents on tenants improvements, they do it verbally all the time. The vast majority of tenants i speak with share this experience. How do you get your information, what is your source when you claim “vast majority don’t” I suspect you are just making this up.
            Now that we know you would like a Scotland with a tenure system based around a “Landlord Class” which have “No genuine interest in farming”. We know thats what you want, but just because you want it does not mean that that is what should be the outcome of land reform. Perhaps you would like to give some evidence of how a BIG LAIRD run country with an exceptionally high proportion of tenanted land is actually better than any other system?

          • SS
            I doubt my evidence is any less robust that yours. The law is clear. Tenants should not pay rent on improvements, they do not have to and if they prepare for this in advance of a review a landlords agent, even should they ask, won’t be able to sustain that position. If you’re speaking to so many tenants and alerting them to this I’m surprised they don’t take your advice. Perhaps employ a land agent. I imagine tenants have accountants prepare their accounts, solicitors with legal matters so seek advice over a rent review.
            I did NOT say we should have a tenure system dominated by a landlord class. I said if you want long term lets then you need an owner who has no interest in farming. It’s hardly a startling revelation and if you could emerge from your obsession with seeing only wrong in the tenanted system my point will be perfectly obvious.

  36. Andrew

    Good point you admit that a minority do surrender their improvements to the landlord which sets a precedent for that to be the norm in ‘ factor thoughts. ‘ . Do you think that this was achieved by bullying by the factor or by incompetence on behalf of the tenant farmer .

    Reply

    • It could easily be neither. Nobody thought of it is as equally likely an explanation. To be honest I think that’s one of the risks of having a relationship part directed by a contract (the lease) and part by complex statute. You have to be aware of each and the law has become so mangled that you need a lawyer to work out what’s going on. Whatever the current review brings simplification should be one of its aims.

      Reply

      • I agree absolutely and ARTB will provide that simplicity.
        Then there will be no doubt about who owns the improvements and whether they should be rented or not.

        Reply

        • And no opportunity. Simple.

          Reply

          • Yes, there will be no opportunity for landlords to rip off young farmers.
            They will do a deal eye to eye with a retiring farmer to farm his land, by the shake of a hand. Nae lairds required.

  37. Neil

    The Corn Laws are well known to be a law drawn up by the landlords of the day who had a huge influence in the governing of Great Britain . They were kept in place solely for the purpose of keeping land values high and farm rents high . The tenant farmers of the day and farmers of today want to feed the Nation , NOT as you falsely claim starve it !!! .l

    Reply

  38. Andrew

    I take from that you mean that it could be either ? .

    Reply

    • I wasn’t born yesterday you know. Your trap was exactly well disguised. As I say its likely to have just been missed.

      Reply

  39. Andrew

    The urban poor were the victims of the actions of the landowners of the time who because of their great wealth governed Great Britain to their own advantage . Even you will have to admit that this was a great injustice of the time .

    Reply

    • GD
      Correct. You didn’t need the “even you”. You won’t find me defending all actions of landowners then or now. I participate here because I believe the self reinforcing lambasting of all things “landlord” is not a true reflection of many of the relationships around Scotland. I don’t doubt some don’t work we’ll – and gat may be fuelling some participants – but perhaps we should address specific problems rather than throwing the whole system asunder with the consequences for property rights and future opportunity within the sector that one particular proposed solution would bring.

      Reply

      • We tried to address specific problems in 2003, and your organisation has unpicked every single part of that act in court.
        If we believed you, we would still be sat here discussing the same things in 2024.
        The landlord tenant system is dead, lets bury it for good.

        Reply

        • Hector
          SL & E hasn’t unpicked anything. We haven’t taken any cases. The Land Court is there to determine the law. Recourse to the court is an important protection. You personally may not agree with their ruling. I suggest you take that up with the Land Court but its completely incorrect to suggest there’s been a dismantling of the 2003 Act. If anything its meaning is now clearer.

          Reply

          • The central plank of the 2003 act was the determination of rents by the economic output of the farm.
            That has been reversed thanks to appeals brought by a landlord, probably an SLE member.
            The act also sought to protect limited partnership tenants from eviction, but a landlord appealed the land court decision and now it is overturned with tragic consequences.
            If that is not unpicking the 2003 act, what is?

  40. Andrew

    On the contrary . Because you have not answered the question I think it would be fair to say that you are lost for words . Farm tenants have been taken advantage of by the devious means of the factor on behalf of the landlord .

    Reply

    • Not lost for words Shooie but you were asking me to state either that factors were a devious bunch or that tenants were stupid. Clearly neither is the case. Cock up is almost always more likely than conspiracy.

      Reply

  41. AH, what should i do when my factor verbally says he wants to increase the rent due to the better condition of a substantial part of the holding(which i improved). When i argue against this he says ‘ok lets settle it in land court’. The meeting comes to an end, then two weeks later i get a recorded letter stating the same demand for rent or land court, no mention of the tenants improvements. What should i do? (Just to let you know i caved under the pressure and the rent went up to the original figure stated at the meeting)

    Reply

    • SS
      Not for me to give advice BUT I would suggest options include; further dialogue setting out case probably with counter offer – preferably with supporting evidence; appoint agent / advisor to go and discuss with factor (can sometimes help); raise with owner directly; raise with either NFUS, STFA or SL & E if you feel your case reasonable and intervention might help; propose ADR such as mediation or expert; stick to guns as last resort. Very few cases make the courts they are squally sisted and resolved. Not ideal I appreciate but difficult to judge further in the absence of context. Whatever capitulation shouldn’t be necessary if the landlords case is not supportable.
      Apologies as likely to be teaching granny to suck eggs – but you did ask.
      To finish, and a general point, many landowners in the current political environment are very reluctant to stoke confrontation. There is a marked reluctance to be seen to be being heavy handed especially if the case is not robust. I’m sure it happens every now and then which is unfortunate.

      Reply

      • thanks Andrew, but i’m very reluctant to take a firm stance against the Estate. They resume a lot of ground around here. And i have been told that i will get a rent increase every three years.

        Reply

        • A regular review isn’t in itself a bad thing assuming the rent remains appropriate. Resumption is either contractually directed or as a fall back limited by fraud on the lease principles. Ask Neil he’ll fill you in. Again I rather suspect you know this.

          Reply

  42. Andrew

    I assume you will agree that with the Corn Laws being enforced in 1804 that landlords had too much power within Great Britain .

    Reply

  43. Andrew, just to change tack. i think all this nitty gritty detail is suiting you a bit too much!
    There is a lot of excitement locally over the possibility of ARTB. So recently i asked my bank manager what kind of rates i would get on a Mortgage(not special government artb mortgage) Basically i would be looking at 2.9% capital repayments. with annual repayments which are greater than my rent but affordable when taking into consideration the projects which i could then embark on. I would be paying the mortgage for 25 years. Then my son would be free to farm so to speak. I only have one farm which i live on and have some exciting ideas, which are based around diversification. I’m trying to explain the difference between the smaller family farm and the larger agri business which probably has a lesser appetite or need for ARTB? Now, when i’m old and useless i hope my son will take over but if not, someone will have to farm the place. So the window of opportunity for the next generation will be there.
    Bearing in mind Andrew that we all agree that the ARTB needs dealt with, do you think you could perhaps give a little in favour of the smaller 91 act single unit holding and its suitability for ARTB? Dare i say it, but should multiple holdings/tenancy which are geared up for scale and all out for market aggression where the focus is on growth be the farms which the Estates would be best keeping? and let the smaller farms, which wish for the security and opportunity of ownership achieve ARTB. What a legacy these estates could leave if they said ‘yes’ let the one farm family units achieve ownership. ARTB put to bed. What do you think?

    Reply

    • SS
      I can perfectly understand why it might appeal to you. However I am fundamentally opposed for two reasons. Property rights and the practical effect on farming. Whilst it might suit you personally it will decimate the let sector which I believe will be bad for farming. And would you let yours or sell it if your son didn’t wish to farm. The evidence everywhere else suggests you’d sell it.
      And in any case with ARTB Estates won’t have the luxury of deciding which farms they can keep.
      We will have to disagree but I trust you can fulfil your ideas nonetheless.

      Reply

      • Andrew, firstly you say ‘property rights’ then ‘practical effect on farming’
        As for the practical effect on farming, i think we are always going to disagree, there is a great deal of evidence to indicate the benefits of ownership within the practice of making a living from working the land. If there were strict and quite firm restrictions on ARTB, do you really think it would decimate the let sector? i think you are getting a wee bit excited there!
        So i will try and move forward with my thoughts and aims for Land reform on the basis of achieving a suitable solution to the ‘property rights’ question.
        good evening

        Reply

        • The challenge will be to devise an ARTB scheme which meets your (SS’s) aspirations but avoids people just cashing in and any wider negative impacts on a continuing let land sector – the “strict and quite firm restrictions” you talk about. Not easy.

          Reply

    • This is an excellent post SS which brings the real issue sharply into focus.

      It highlights the growing distinction between “smaller 91 act single unit holdings” on one hand and the “larger agri business” on the other.

      What it says to me is that the former (“family farms”) will become more and more like crofts as time goes by – lifestyle choices (I’m not using that in a derogatory way), a certain way of life that’s less and less about farming and food production, more about diversification etc. etc. The latter (big ag) will concentrate on food production, making a profit, bringing prices of food down – they probably wouldn’t WANT to own land or even be committed to a long lease. And as SS says, likely to be more profitable to estates long term.

      Thought provoking …

      (It’s also a perfect example of how you can get your point across MUCH more effectively with a reasoned point rather than shouting, abusing, denying, being offensive, twisting people’s words round etc.)

      Reply

  44. I doubt if SS would listen to me if I were the last lawyer on earth but the syndrome he’s talking about is called “latent value”. I’d never heard of this until recently but the argument runs that, although in principle a tenant can’t be rented on his own improvements, a hypothetical tenant will pay a bit extra in rent for the opportunity to carry out an improvement he will profit from.

    Example: A not very clued up landlord is letting a farm by negotiation (i.e. not by inviting tenders). The farm includes a 25 acre island not linked by a bridge so our dozy landlord says “Oh, I’ll just throw that in at £5 an acre.” Come the first rent review, and the landlord is now being advised by ABC Smartypants who say a tenant could build a bridge to the island for £10,000 and with access it would be worth £75/acre. 25ac x £75 = £1875 minus £1,000 (£10k cost of bridge at 10%) = £875 minus £125 (25ac x £5 original rent) = £750 rent increase for the island at first review to account for its latent value which the dozy landlord didn’t notice when he originally let the farm. That reasoning holds good whether the tenant has built the bridge or not.

    This latent value concept rests on the authority of a single English County Court case called Tummon which involved very unusual circumstances. It has never been affirmed by the Scottish Land Court or Court of Session (so far as I know). I gather Brian Gill speaks approvingly of it in his textbook (though I don’t have a copy to be able to check that) and I admit it would be unwise to gainsay him for obvious reasons.

    However, my problem with latent value is that it should be “corrected out” at the first review (as in above example) if it was overlooked when the farm was originally let. Why does it have to wait until the tenant actually unlocks the value, perhaps many reviews after the farm was first let? If there’s one thing the Moonzie case taught us, it’s that the rent is what tenants actually pay in the market, not what they should theoretically pay according to abstract principles. So if they don’t in reality pay for latent value until someone “unlocks the value” and ABC Smartypants make an issue of it, then that seems to me to go against the grain of the Moonzie case. Which was, in essence, “there’s no logical reason why tenant farmers should share their SFP with landlords but the evidence shows they do.” With “latent value” the evidence shows in practice they don’t (or else there would be no farm with latent value left unrented).

    Considering its rather dubious legal provenance (as tested in court), I firmly believe latent value is an example of hawkish land agents being too clever for their own and risking killing the goose that lays the golden egg longer term. I think latent value should be raised with the current Ag Holdings Review for possible statutory abolition. Or if not that the STFA (or someone) consider funding a test case.

    Reply

  45. Neil

    Would Smartypants sue the laird if he fell through the bridge on inspecting this wonderful farm tenant’s improvement ? .

    Reply

  46. Neil

    I am sure in this litigious society that we live in that if Smartypants fell through the bridge and badly hurt himself he would want to sue for compensation . So, who do you think he should sue . The landlord or the tenant ? .

    Reply

    • It’s not my area of expertise but I’d say the tenant because he is the “occupier” of the bridge. In practice, I suspect SP’s lawyers would serve the summons on both landlord and tenant to be sure. I also suspect the L’s insurers would resist very strenuously whereas T’s insurers might be on a hiding to nothing. SP would have to prove T had been negligent as well. (I think.)

      Reply

  47. Neil

    Glad you have managed to understand the question . So now we know why the landlord did not build the bridge in the first place . The farm tenant once again takes all the risk . The island was a carrot to entice the tenant to improve the estate of the landlord . It is maybe the farm tenant who should be having the sense of humour failure .

    Reply

    • The bridge thing was meant as an example not to be taken too seriously but as you’ve managed to detect a lairdy conspiracy in it, if the tenant was *that* risk averse he should have declined to have the island included in the lease in the first place.

      Reply

  48. The hypothetical tenant should be arrested and hung up by his testicles.
    He is the cause of all the trouble. But then he might claim breach of his human rights.
    No doubt he was born from the law of hypothec which enabled the landlord to clean out the tenants bank account and every supplier in the district.
    If single unit 91 act tenancies were to be reclassified as crofts, with all attendant rights, that would be a step in the right direction and lead to ARTB .
    A croft after all was defined as having a rent less than the average annual wage of a worker(£50) at the time and not many family farms will pay more in rent than the average annual wage today, about £25,000

    Reply

  49. What some clot is willing to pay in the market should have no bearing on a sitting tenant, who should not be subject to any review at all.

    Reply

  50. Neil

    I feel some latent heat from somewhere .

    Reply

  51. Neil, In a word, yes.

    Reply

    • Not even to periodically reassess a fair rent (as with crofts)?

      Reply

      • No, no reviews at all.
        Andrew Howard has more or less admitted that factors charge rent on tenants improvements when they know they shouldnt.
        They do it very simply by threatening the land court as outlined by slurry stirrer, or some other form of bribery, like ththreatening withdrawal of grass parks or other assets where you are a tenant-at -will.
        Margins are way smaller than twenty years ago, yet factors are seeking 100% increases because barley was up 30 % for a couple of harvests.
        They are not interested in the 300% rise in deisel , fert and machinery.
        Rent reviews, yes, ban them completely.

        Reply

        • Hector
          Not what I said. As for the rest I’m lost for words!

          Reply

          • That makes a change!

          • what if.. under an ARTB implementation, 1: we were to include pe-emptive rights for previous landlord. 2: an uplift clause in case the new owner just tried to sell to cash in 3: the ring fencing of the tenancy, so if the new owner was to cease farming and then let, they would have to give out a 91act. 4: where there is a farmer with more than one rented holding then they only get to exercise ARTB on 1 holding and only after they relinquish the other tenancies(thus creating more holdings which can be let to young guys)
            What do you think? property rights protected a bit, and tenancy system protected a bit. I am trying to concede a bit here from my usual land reform mode, in an attempt to find a solution for everyone.

          • SS
            I appreciate the attempt to find a middle ground. I remain opposed to the whole idea of ARTB. Using it a bit, and with constraints, will still cause the damage. Where I think progress can be made is in areas related to compensation for improvements, dispute resolution and ensuring tenants can fulfill diversification ambitions. Aiming to resolve these issues so that tenancies are an opportunity and not a constraint.

  52. I think SS has the beginnings of a plan.

    Lots of devil in detail but an initial thought is I could foresee a problem with your (SS’s) point 4 where none of the holdings is viable on its own. I would drop this condition as driven by one “one holding” dogma. In reality a single “holding” might be of multiple tenures. Let your man buy all his 91 Act tenancies (not LPs though).

    I like your condition 3 which looks like crofting and the use it or lose it to a new crofter initiative. Another parallel that could be brought in from crofting is I think there’s something in the recent crofting plan which says you can decroft (i.e. “cash in”) only if it’s to fund a business plan on the holding. But not to retire to Tenerife.

    Reply

    • Neil
      I’m interested whether you as a lawyer are concerned about the property rights impact of ARTB, what the public interest argument is and what impact on letting any form of ARTB would take.

      Reply

  53. The crofting model is the one to follow in most respects.
    Assignation, Fair rent, and ARTB. The legislation is already in place and proven, just the geographical area needs expanded over scotland.
    I accept the need for controls, and the uplift/clawback clause i could agree with, though tenants improvements could complicate it.
    Even the one unit per person for ARTB up to a point, but remaining tenant on the other unit.
    A pre emptive right to buy back at first sale would be good, but subject to controls on how many units being farmed by landlord already.
    I am delighted at last to be in agreement neil.

    Reply

    • Hector
      Neil and you in agreement. Not sure who should be most worried!
      We used to have about 12 crofts created near Inverness after the first war. Two are left and they aren’t actively farmed. The rest were bought and resold for a plethora of housing plots. Nice for those that cashed in but I’m utterly bemused as to what benefit (there wasn’t a housing shortage) accrued to the public.
      I will be interested in Neil’s comments but you just can’t dip into something like ARTB. Look at the toxic effect its having whilst just being discussed. Say you introduce it for some, others will cry not fair, there’ll be turning about the proposed restrictions as it goes through Holyrood, the qualifications will be complex to the point of being undeliverable – just think about the law and tests needed to implement SS’s proposal. It would just a big a mess as ARTB for all. It’s a delusion to think it wouldn’t be.
      You are entitled to your view, mine is that ARTB is a toxic issue for Scottish farming in general and it needs to be consigned to history as an idea very quickly before it causes even more lasting damage.

      Reply

  54. Andrew, you asked about my concerns as a lawyer on the property rights impact of ARTB and impact on letting generally but these are issues of politics and market perception rather than law.

    If there’s going to be a settlement on ARTB, it needs to be one that everyone comes out of genuinely happy with so that the market and political perception is that there’s been closure and we can move on in our respective spheres of interest (“family farms” & “commercial food production”) without either side having lingering grudges to carry into the future. You talk about a toxic issue – the boil needs to be lanced and thoroughly disinfected.

    I make these points against the background of the 2003 Act which was a hopeless fudge that nobody was really happy with despite the gritted teeth talk of “industry consensus”. That mistake must not be repeated.

    What I *would* make a plea for as a lawyer is that all the t’s are crossed and i’s dotted of the ARTB scheme before it reaches Parliament. That was the other problem with 2003 – making it up as they went along, amendments lodged at the last minute leading to the courts (the Land Court as well, never mind Brian Gill or the Supreme Court) chucking it out as an unworkable dog’s breakfast. Take the time to do a proper job and get it right.

    Reply

    • Neil
      Agreed this is essentially driven by politics and in an ideal world a package that the majority are happy with would help. Having said that a few points:

      Politics or not, I don’t think that means the property rights implications of ARTB can be ignored. I know property rights are “infringed” by all sorts of statutes but the loss of property to another individual is crossing a line. (And before its mentioned just because the Tories did it with long lease flats does not make it right);

      Any type of ARTB will mean property owners avoid letting like the plague. And if I here the “it’s only for 1991 act leases” line again I’ll scream. It will decimate letting full stop. My prediction.

      The basics of the 2003 Act were not as bad as all that. Yes the LDT min term was an issue, fixed equipment was ambiguous and it was poorly drafted in parts. BUT it suffered from things not of its making. The CAP, continued agitation for RTB from a vocal minority and worst of all senior politicians who did little to hide their wish to see Ag holdings dragged into land reform. When you don’t trust the intentions of those with the levers of power decision making becomes very conservative.

      You might expect me to say this but trying to find a package which gives those who want to buy their farm something to be happy about is completely inconsistent with a vibrant let sector. So someone is going to be greatly unhappy. I won’t repeat my case on the need for letting as you’ve heard it before but the greatest fudge of all would be to try and have a “bit” of ARTB. Those that miss out will cry foul and contract farming will be the norm with little or no new letting as a response from landlords and prospective landlords.

      Reply

      • Andrew, i am afraid that your answer is not really giving us any detail from experience or evidence. Your argument for not having ARTB is solely based on fear, fear from landowners never going to let land again. Well if they don’t after ARTB then the next campaign will have to be legislation to force the letting of units, so be very careful how you put up resistance.
        in terms of your so called ‘minority for ARTB’ this is not true the poles and evidence show it otherwise. The minority against ARTB are the very few BIG LANDOWNERS.
        I think we should be looking at how to improve the rural set up and not be blinkered into thinking this is just an issue to maintain tenancies.

        Reply

        • Andrew, is it a case of maximum resistance in order to hopefully limit the holdings which qualify for ARTB? Do you think there might be some common ground to be found if the Landowners came out now and said, right lets grant the ARTB (to as few holdings as possible) then they would be seen in a different light, and could position themselves into a stronger position moving forward with land reform.

          Reply

        • SS
          I suspect you’ll find landowners of all shapes and sizes abhor the very idea of it. This is not a scale thing.
          Your response reveals something else characteristic of land reform policy. It’s all stick and no carrot. If you want letting making people do it is absolutely the least effective way to do it. How could you in practice in any case. Try carrot for a change. It works. The private rented housing sector was dead on its feet until 1989 when it was made attractive. Now huge investment and a lot of supply. In E & W the let farm market was as here until 1995. The FBT was attractive to owners so it was used. The result you see farms advertised to let south if the border and according to CAAV figs 20% go to new entrants.
          I realise the accusation these vehicles aren’t perfect. Probably not, so address that with tweaks. But learn the lesson. It is very hard to make people do things they do not believe to be in their interests.
          It’s really not complicated. I fear the problem in Scotland is that politicians simply can’t stomach being seen to do something which landowners may see as good. Well they need to get over it and focus on positive outcomes for farming.

          Reply

        • SS, you say “the next campaign will have to be legislation to force the letting of units, so be very careful how you put up resistance” but I would counter that by saying be careful how you pursue your campaign for ARTB because I would think that a key plank of a “grand settlement” on ARTB must be that it contains the carrot that, once the family farms have been bought off them, then the estates are left in peace thereafter to do what they want. If they want to let it all on short term lets to Big Ag, then so be it, no more talk of campaigns or “forcing” anything. A clean break divorce, if you like. If your ring fencing idea turns out not to satisfy demand from new-entrants, then the government can buy some farms when they come to the market and let them to NEs.

          Reply

  55. I would like to say that with ABSOLUTE Right to Buy farm tenants have at least one option IF and WHEN NECESSARY . Without A R T B in the background landlords CAN and DO run roughshod over their farm tenants and manage to evict them out of their farms fair means or foul . If A R T B is introduced I do not think many tenants would exercise their right if their relationship with their landlord was good . However , if the farm tenant has come to an unbearable situation with the landlord then the A R T B can be exercised . The farm tenant should be happy with the valuation of the farm at sitting tenant value while the landlord should be happy with the valuation of his land having a sitting farm tenant . As was mentioned earlier , how many crofts have been bought by crofters who already have the Right to Buy . They must be happy . So must their landlords .

    Reply

  56. Andrew, Interesting that you quote the private rented house sector, that is now a landlords paradise and tenants nightmare, and is the cause of the housing bubble and the ruin of britain.
    What is our debt now? 1.3 trillion pounds and rising thanks to bailing out the property banking sector.
    All caused by freedom of contract for landlords, just as they brought farming to its knees 120 years ago.

    Reply

    • Hector
      Not quite right. Supply up, quality up, choice for tenants. Accepted problem with a small minority of bad landlords but landlord registration and specific targeting of those individuals – LAs will know who they are can address. Not exclusively, but largely an urban problem.
      The debt will be largely secured against owner occupiers not buy to let investors which remain a minority sector. Interestingly you wish to join the ranks of owner occupiers adding to the debt pile in agriculture – or has farming been kind enough that its already in the piggy bank?

      Reply

      • Apologies – I see your bail out point. A lot of written off debts were overseas (Ireland – the Celtic Tiger our FM seems to have jilted in favour of a Scandinavian romance) and in commercial property. RBS also bought in a huge amount of debt with ABN Amro.
        Agreed lots of mortgage debt but largely to owner occupiers.

        Reply

  57. Owner occupiers are not the problem, landlords are.
    Rents in my area have risen 6 fold in 20 yrs, yet wages have only doubled.
    People are fed up with 6 month tenancies, they are bad for family life, social life and society generally, in fact pretty similiar to life under short farm tenancies.

    Reply

    • Hector
      Would be interested to see the actual numbers but I understand the point. How many residential tenancies actually end for any reason other than the non-payment of rent? Not many. I accept that a short term, in theory, is not as desirable for a tenant, but the previous regime produced no properties at all – which has to be worse. Our average term of occupation for houses is 5-6 yrs and in 20 years of practicing I’ve only dealt with two evictions for anything other than non payment of rent.

      Reply

  58. Andrew

    That was a very pompous and bullying account you gave to S S at 9.45 this morning . I thought that letting of private housing was to one family per house . With farming the big farmers are taking over more farmland with the consequence that there is less farmland for let to young farmers . The people who benefit in this situation are the landlords who are really just interested in the big rents afforded by the big farmers . No more crocodile tears please , we have had enough of them .

    Reply

    • I can assure you it wasn’t supposed to be. Perhaps you could elaborate why?
      I agree that established farmers tend to take on most land but that is surely a consequence of farm economics. Very few farms now are what they were, say 50 years ago. Most are aggregated units. That trend will continue whether we like it or not driven by stronger forces than Ag holdings legislation. It’s not just “landlords” as you might imagine us who have benefited as you put it. Every farmer with a contract with his neighbour is doing the same thing. Exploiting marginal economies. There are sound reasons to do this in terms of production efficiency etc.
      Having said that a perfectly legitimate concern is the effect on social fabric particularly of fragile areas. That can’t be ignored but it may be that activities other than agriculture may have to come to support local populations in the future. That’s not to say no farming just it will need less people. That’s nothing to do with landlords and tenants rather technological change etc.

      Reply

      • Regrettably Andrew that has everything to do with landlords as a tenant hamstrung by his landlord and lease cannot diversify and compete on a level playing field with an owner occupier who will better financed and can spend his time on improving his business rather than on endless rent reviews and other nonsense dreamt up by factors to justify themselves.

        Reply

  59. Andrew

    So why are you trying to establish a common denominator with farm tenancies and the letting of housing . As was mentioned earlier , houses and commercial properties are still being built but unfortunately farmland and farms are not .

    Reply

    • I agree. But the supply of let land is currently constrained more than it should be by politics, the CAP etc. the reason for quoting FBTs was that after the 1995 Act the % of let land went up. It’s now stable in E&W. So land isn’t being made but choices still exist about what is done with it and what tenure option is chosen. In 1989 and thereafter the supply of houses to the let sector weren’t all new builds. They were houses coming back to the sector from other uses, perhaps staff houses, holiday lets or even vacant. So whilst the effect of increased supply in farm tenancies can’t be as marked as for, say houses, because you can’t make more you can still increase supply of a tenure type.

      Reply

  60. Andrew

    Would you agree that if there was not a buy to let market that houses in Great Britain would be cheaper to buy for first time buyers ?? .

    Reply

    • GD
      Possibly but depending on what % of the total market is buy to let the effect may not be that marked. I’m guessing, and that’s what it is, that in most areas the key determinant of rising prices is a shortage of supply. You may however be correct but that shouldn’t deflect from a need to build more houses.
      Not really relevant in the farm market with prices being set by owner occupiers who are largest purchaser class by some way. No market for investment land (let) in Scotland any more.

      Reply

  61. Andrew
    O K then , after 1995 with the advent of F B Ts where did the ‘ extra ‘ land go to in England and Wales . What % went to young farmers and what %” went to established farmers .

    Reply

    • I don’t know about in 1995 but CAAV figs I last saw suggested 20% went to new entrants. Andy W was at the event they were presented at Stirling mart. He may be able to corroborate.

      Reply

  62. I think the area of let land in england and wales is shrinking just as fast as in scotland, as the FBT is little different from the LDT.
    Contract farming is taking over, due to tax reasons and the sfp, and they dont have rtb or the threat of it.
    Buy to let has caused the bubble, and without it, a house would be 3x income as they were pre 1988.
    I know several people who were swindled out of their pre 88 secure tenancy by unscrupulous factors

    Reply

  63. Andrew

    Stabilising but I note not rising

    I assume that a large % of the extra land that went to new entrants came from owner/occupiers or Council holdings .

    Reply

    • Shooie
      It rose then stabilised which is a good deal better than Scotland which is falling steadily. As to who let to new entrants i imagine a good number must have come from landowners because I’ve not seen any evidence suggesting owner occupiers being a big source of letting though there will be some and the Council estates are being sold in many cases. I understand the initial boost post 1995 came from landowners shifting land from inhand to let land where they thought tenants would make a better job.
      I’m sure CAAV or SAAVA could expand on this.

      Reply

  64. Andrew

    If it is stable today and then falls what would you then advise the Government to do ?.

    Reply

    • Depends why its falling and whether government policy could reasonably influence it. The ag Holdings Group set up by the Cab Sec is very helpfully starting by trying to understand what’s not working. A good basis for sensible policy making.

      Reply

  65. The strange thing is that some people believe that a rise in let land is a good thing, when it certainly isnt, unless it is a very long renewable lease.
    There is a vast amount of land in the uk being farmed way below its potential due to short leases or contract farming.
    The land is being degraded, weeds are being spread by machinery from county to county, blackgrass is becoming endemic,and no drainage is being done.
    One day we will pay a heavy price for this neglect of our most basic resource.
    Hopefully by ARTB we can protect scottish land from further degradation.

    Reply

    • Hector
      I don’t accept this characterisation. What on earth benefit does anyone have from such neglect. I don’t see it in this part of the world. Farming standards vary but not by tenure just motivation and ability. Some of the most progressive and successful farmers in this area have businesses based on tenancies – 1991 and LDTs.

      Reply

      • This situation exists more in england than scotland, as i was talking about contract farming and short leases, not 91 act tenancies.
        ARTB is needed to keep land away from the contract farmers.

        Reply

  66. yes hector, perhaps this is what the debate needs, some details on the treatment or attitude to the land/soil which is so terrible. The four tenanted farms which border me no longer have any of the tenants living in the farm houses. Two of the farms are still farmed by the original tenants while the others are, one seasonal let and the other farmed back in hand by the estate. The seasonal let farm is now being grazed periodically by a big farmer with 3 other units. Drainage has been neglected and in fact there is an excavated duck pond in what used to be a silage field. The estate run farm has had most of the stock removed and is seriously undergrazed with an incredible yellow bloom in july with ragwort. 91 act tenancies are slowly being bought out and contract farming the replacement. This will not change because ARTB was taken off the table before and it had no effect on the letting of farms. The cold hard fact is that the estates want their hands on subsidies, plant loads of trees and up the gears for sporting shooting. This is now agri business and not agri culture.
    The divide between the family farm and the big agri businesses has never been greater. My problem is i cannot and will not invest, no law will protect me against being rent racked. My rent goes to run an estate only interested in shooting, nothing and i mean nothing gets spent back into the farm. I am served notice to quit every three years to initiate what used to be called a rent review, a misnomer now, correct title is a rent increase! The bank will not lend me any money to do any projects in the form of tenants improvements. I now have to renew the march fences because the estate ignore my letters. This situation is completely unattractive to the next generation, as things stand this place has no future as a family farm. My community is dying, nobody can do anything, ideas don’t belong here. We exist under a shadow of power which is blind to our life. It is so obvious what the problem is, control has been taken away, and with it has gone hope. Landlordisim is a horrible thing, yes landlordisim, a system designed to take the efforts of others to gain wealth, title, power. Something completely different from the letting of land between people of the same standing.

    Reply

    • Absolutely spot on Slurry Stirrer could not have put it better myself.

      Ironically I went to a parents evening about a decade ago at the secondary shool and spoke to our estates farm manager standing under a banner in the geographys department which listed all the drawbacks and failings of monoculture (continuous cereals, low soil organic matter, gully erosion etc……) . I oftened wondered wether he ever read this banner. Our glacial soils will not stand this treatment forever.

      Reply

  67. Slurry Stirrer

    The estate I am a farm tenant on is run along the same lines . Very frustrating that the Estate does nothing , but farm tenants have to do all the work maintaining what the Estate should do on the farm .

    Reply

    • I can only re-emphasise that if the facts of your cases are as you suggest then the landlords actions are not supported by the law. I accept that the idea of a legal spat cannot be attractive but the law is there to protect and taking your facts at face value would do so.
      As an aside a rent notice is not a notice to quit it is a notice that he rent is to be reviewed at the next time a notice to quit could take effect. It’s stupid in its language but it is NOT a N to Q it just uses it as date reference. You can of course argue for a reduction. It doesn’t have to go up.
      Certainly the current Ag holdings review should look at the frustrations you face. But are a failure of the system in your case and should be addressed. It doesn’t mean that the system can’t work.

      Reply

      • ‘The system’ exactly. I repeat, no law can ever protect a tenant from being rent racked on their improvements/ diversification’s. I know the law is there, but it means absolutely nothing.
        What this debate needs now is a landlords view on land, soil, people, communities, we need to hear from the other side. Calculated words from a salaried position designed to destroy any attempts at land reform, emphasise the struggle that tenants face.

        Reply

  68. A famous scottish agriculturalist once stated ” i would rather farm 50 acres of my own land than be a tenant on 500 acres”.
    I agree wholeheartedly with that statement.
    He was later summarily evicted for daring to stand for parliament.

    Reply

    • Hector
      I know which I’d have any day. The 500. Perhaps your agriculturalist would have been better suited to politics than business.

      Reply

      • Andrew, its easy to see you are are not a farmer.
        The man i refer to was a highly respected farmer, who saw all too clearly the futility of the tenant farmers position, with his improvements routinely stolen at waygo and charged out as rent to the next tenant.
        He said,
        “When your property meets with the full recognition it is entitled to, whether in or on the heritable property of others, shall no longer be liable to confiscation – either at the material or enforced conclusion of tenancies, then, but not till then, i take the liberty of advising you to spare no expense in making two blades of grass grow where one grew before”
        Regrettably little has changed since those words were uttered 140 years ago, and what little progress has been made is now under attack from SL &E in their campaign for freedom of contract..

        Reply

        • Hector
          I’m a farmers son (small dairy farm) and the business I manage farms so whilst we disagree I think its slightly unfair to dismiss my views because I don’t drive a tractor every day.
          Your chap may ave been a fine agriculturalist but with respect 140 years ago was a different age with no legislative protection for tenants. That is not the case now.

          Reply

    • I have never been convinced that large scale farming is effiecient but is very wasteful with too few people on the ground trying to do to much. A few years ago my agronomist told me of the story on a large farm where an unsupervised student sent to roll newly sown fields 10 miles away kept going after torrential rain started and left 100s of acres ruined with the scars visible for the rest of the growing season. He also remarked that on these same units a quarter of the crop was sown to early, half was sown on time and a quarter sown too late, With such a short growing season in Scotland timeliness is everything. The final statement is the most telling one as he also said that total Scottish grain output had been pretty static for decades now with the growth of these bigger units and the losses that they tolerate. This is not me talking but an idependant observer of cereal growing in Scotland

      Reply

      • interesting, it runs with an article which explains how a country has a set stocking rate for cattle, set rate for sheep, set area for cereals etc. It dispels the myth that large Agri businesses are the answer to production. The limit is the limit, and in fact it actually showed that smaller farms which can focus far better, would be the answer to food security and efficiency. BUT, this requires lots of people in lots of farms, unfortunately we cant do that in Scotland because the land is owned by so few people and living under the tenure system is not attractive. So the situation is, Estates take land back in hand and where they do let, they choose the big money from the big players, hence today we have land reform.

        Reply

        • Why only the focus on estates and their scale. All farms, of all tenures have been getting bigger driven by economics. 75% of farms are owner occupied and they’ve been growing in the same way so why not have a go at them as well.
          I think its a gross simplification to suggest that big is bad and small is good. It’s down to the quality of the farmer.
          We should also consider output – is volume of output the key or margin. You can get 10,000l a cow but if it costs you a fortune in feed costs to do it you’re not getting very far. Surely a focus on profitability not just gross output would be better for the long term particularly if subsidies are to be cut? I’m not fussed at what scale the farm is. Whatever works. But most farmers seem to enhance that margin with added scale.

          Reply

          • Land agents always want scale, because the simple fact is that the fewer people on a given area of land, the higher the aggregate rent achieved to the landlord.
            This has gone on from the lowland clearances to the present day, about 300 years.
            The only time more tenants were wanted was before 1745 when the laird needed soldiers.

          • And it is just that persuit of “profitability” that leaves the country with a static or declining cereal output as a farmer be he owner occupier or tenant thinks I”ll take on that extra 100 acres go a bit faster with the same combine to do it and leave more on the ground. I have an old college friend a large owner occupier with just that mindset who in one of these recent wet years struggled to lift 100 acres of daffodil bulbs in the summer,finally got them up covered in mud, dried them, had them rejected because they were too dusty and had to dump them. Only on his scale could these losses be tolerated. The story with his potato operation was the same one year he made a millon pounds and the next he lost two million pounds. And yes I absolutely agree the management ability has to grow at the same rate or faster as the scale of the farm increases.

          • There is no point telling us that ‘most farmers seem to enhance that margin with added scale’ just because the majority do something does not mean that is right. If we ignore land reform and let the Lairds with their land agents get their way again and again then gone is the family farm. Scottish people do not want the countryside covered with Agri Businesses where the view is that farmers have too much wealth. The divide has been created it is there, now we need to protect the dying breed, the ‘Single unit family farm’. These farms need something to protect them from the Agri Bus’ mentality, the pressure from the land agent. ARTB will deliver this.

          • Ok. A question for you all – in fact two.

            1. Is your farm larger now than it was in say, 1950?

            2. How many holdings does it constitute – or were holdings in say 1950. Include land you lease in in addition.

          • Same size Andrew, my Great grandparents lived here first.

  69. Exactly the same as Slurry Stirrer Andrew.

    Reply

    • Ok, thanks. I’ve only really practised in the NE and Inner Moray Firth although we do have farms in west Perthshire. I’d say a very significant proportion of farms were themselves an amalgam of units. May be some big regional differences. Thanks.

      Next question if I may – if the farm next door came vacant and it was available would you go for it?

      Reply

      • About ten years ago i would have, definitely. I think about half the farmers around here would go for it today. I am just basing that on roughly the proportion that participate in the auctioning of grass lets, just a really rough estimate. The reason that i would not go for the extra ground is because the tenanted farm i am on needs improving, fences, drainage, grass field regen(the area i got shafted on for improving, i have let it go back to rushes) So my thoughts are for improving here and i would not like to have any more tenanted ground with this same system of substandard farming. And yes i suppose i would like to see a young new start getting in, i speak to them about this and i think i would be a hypocrite if i went for it.

        Reply

      • It did .Did figures on my own. Then asked accountant to do a set of figures. We both came up with the same maximum offer. Never put an offer in as we knew it woud never be accepted as we knew someone like my old college friend whose motto aways was my overdrafts bigger than yours woud outbid everyone. Sure enough it was let for double what we had worked out. Lets hope commodity prices keep rising for their sake but I have lived through too many slumps to outbid them.

        Reply

      • You have to realise when enough is enough and where economies of scale start to fall off.
        Finding good labour is a problem.
        As a short term tenant you have to bid for every piece of land, as you never know when you may lose other pieces.
        However, if a tenant had proper security of tenure as in the right to assign , proper rent control and right to buy, the best way to increase profit is to fully develop the home farm, and forget about running the next door farm.

        Reply

        • The farmer who grazes the next farm to me on a 364 and runs 3 other places told me that what he does is ‘not really farming’ The landlords love this, they cant afford to fix all these places, they are run down, in some cases they can own 40 farms or more and every one of them under performing. A 364 farm with the house empty is what i call a ghost farm, some overly busy guy will zoom round for an hour then go, you might not see anyone on the ground for weeks. BUT, they pay BIG rents and they make NO noise, so the farm is sucked dry. Who is going to complain? the new entrant? no chance, they have been given ground, usually poor ground to keep them quiet.

          Reply

        • What do you mean by “proper rent control” there considering you said earlier you were against all rent reviews?

          Reply

          • Neil, welcome back, i was worrying where you had gone after wednesdays ARTB blog.
            Proper rent control means no rent reviews or a limit of say 1% increase per review.

  70. ANDREW

    JUST THE SAME ACREAGE !!!

    Reply

  71. Neil

    This account of events was taken from Wikipedia on-line about The Corn Laws
    ”To ensure that British landowners reaped ALL the financial profits from farming, the corn laws imposed steep import duties, making it too expensive for anyone to import grain from other countries, even when the people of Great Britain and Ireland needed the food (as in times of famine).”
    On looking up the word famine in Wikipedia ” This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality ”.

    You claimed on 11/Feb at 11.00 am ” So tenant farmers prospered at the expense of the urban poor who suffered from artificially high food prices ”.
    Your comments do not appear to be correct as it appears that The Corn Laws were a device to keep land values and rentals high for the sole benefit of the very powerful landlords .

    So from this account

    Reply

  72. So are you saying that farmers gained no benefit at all from the high prices of grain brought about by the corn laws? Whatever. Don’t bother to answer that. I personally have found the last dozen or so posts on this thread from people talking about the realities of farming in the last 10 years and what that says about the next 10 years MUCH more informative and opinion forming than trying to score points by rummaging through ancient history.

    Reply

  73. You have to know how you got to present times before you can move forward.
    “Those who dont know history are condemned to repeat it”
    I forget whose quote that was, but it is very relevant today.
    In the modern CAP we effectively have the new corn laws, which reward land ownership but not those who grow food upon that land.
    Since acreage payments came in, life for tenants has become increasingly difficuilt, pushing up rents and land values , making the chasm between a tenant and land ownership ever wider.

    Reply

    • there now exists an very real feeling that the landlords want their farms back. That presents me with a climate where i face insecurity and it is a real dilemma because i have a sense of belonging to this farm, i don’t want to go anywhere else, i would long for this ground. Money, subsidy, business, high rents, farming a family farm is supposed to be a way of life. I shouldn’t have to play by the rules of big Agri Business. This is community wrecking, culture destroying, environmental violence.

      Reply

      • SS
        Assuming you have a 1991 Act tenancy in what way is that lease at risk assuming you continue to pay your rent? You have full security and the ability to pass that lease on. Notwithstanding any other relationship issues you have with your landlord security of occupation should not be one of your anxieties.

        Reply

    • Hector
      I’d be interested to see the evidence that suggests rents suddenly shot up because of area payments. They didn’t. As I said much earlier in this thread if you subsidise an industry that will affect behaviour and see value spread throughout that sector. The idea that only landlords benefit from this is wrong. Farmers of all types have been the main beneficiaries.

      Reply

      • i would say that since LFASS went to area payment that is when the heavy pressure came on rents.

        Reply

        • SS
          If the link to subsidies was so clear rents on farms with high claims per ha would be higher than other when this clearly isn’t the case. Rents go up when farming times are better. That’s why they didn’t go up for some years through late 90’s and 2000’s regardless of subsidy levels.

          Reply

      • I beg to differ as rents did move up considerably in my case at the time area payments came in. However I did have a factor who was prepared to listen to me as we were in great need of a new general purpose shed as the old one had fallen down. I said to him if I was an owner occupier I would be able to keep all the new EEC payment and do what I wanted with it As I was a tenant the estate wanted their share but could he at least use some of it to provide us with a new shed. That way he would gain by adding value to the farm and I would gain the use of new storage facilities. After a bit of negotiation he agreed. That was the last renewal on this farm by the landowner now 20 odd years ago.

        Reply

        • And you’d have to build the shed yourself and if you’d bought the farm with any debt pay the bank which could easily be higher than rent.
          What’s frustrating about where the mess that Ag holdings legislation has got us is that a system that should provide benefits in farming (taking advantage of the capital of both parties etc – why do so many other businesses divest themselves of their property to devote capital for production) is failing to do that because its created a framework wholly unattractive to one party – the landlord- which has reduced engagement and in some impacted on investment because they can’t see a return.

          Reply

          • The shed would have taken one and a half years arable area aid to pay myself. and the following 18 years payments would have bought a good chunk of the farm at prices ruling then but I accept land values also shot up due to the arable area payments on them and also input costs rose(priced to what the market would stand not what it cost to produce) as you alluded to in earlier posts so these new payments were soon whittled away. So the rent goes up to take a share of the arable area aid and the value of land rises as well.All in all hasn”t land plus rent been one of the best performing assest in the last decade or so almost rivalling gold and there seems to be no sign of this stopping

          • Agricultural land only performs well as an investment if you periodically sell it which many landowners don’t. He income yield is very poor indeed – as let land – usually 1-2%. The investment performance is in capital growth which you need to sell to crystallise. Estates often work, despite to modest income returns because they have diverse income bases which work to complement each other.

      • Andrew, I have been in this business a lot longer than you. Rents doubled in 1994-6 when acreage payments came in. I never said they shot up, but since you used those words, ok they did.
        What i said was that the” new CAP corn laws reward land ownership” I didnt use the word “landlord” at all. Tenant farmers have not benefitted at all, as mentioned above, and many have lost farms altogether to the slipper landlord driving a biro pen.
        We could get along a lot quicker if you actually read my posts.
        I would be quite happy for an independent scotland to remain outside the EU and lets see who can farm without subsidy.

        Reply

        • Hector
          May be you have but I was working 1994-96 and I saw no doubling of rents. I will endeavour to find data for general rents but I can be very clear about the data I have for estates I’ve worked on that any increases were nothing like that high.
          I just don’t accept that tenants don’t also benefit from subsidies. If they hadn’t that would suggest that the total rate per ha paid all went on rent which for 1991 Act rents is not the case.

          Reply

  74. Neil

    Well I will answer that .
    Landlords have always enjoyed high prices for grain so that land values and land rentals are kept high .

    As for history , learn from it !! .
    Here is a very wise quote for you from Confucius ” Study the past if you would define the future.”
    Following on from this wise quote . Do you think that it is right that only 432 people own half of Scotland ?.

    Reply

    • GD, if you insist on harping on about the corn laws then that wasn’t the question I asked. Please don’t insult my intelligence by imagining I don’t understand the significance of history. There’s a world of difference between learning from the past and selectively picking episodes from history in an attempt to prove a point.

      Reply

  75. Interesting comments in yesterdays scotsman about the srdp favouring owner occupiers at the expense of tenants, and distorting the market.
    You wont find it online.

    Reply

  76. Neil

    O K , We will try it another way .
    Do you think it is right that 432 people own half of Scotland ? .

    Reply

    • GD
      To nit pick I think the stat is that 432 own half of the privately owned land which is different from half of all land given the state is the largest landowner by a mile in Scotland and lots of NGOs etc also own a lot of land.
      I suppose my response is really to as – so what? A few observations. Is it really such a surprise that Scotland, which has the highest % of LFA in the EU, has a different pattern of ownership. Most of the land owned by the 432 will be of low productivity so again scale not surprising. Use is more important than ownership. We should be focusing on ensuring that land use strategy objectives are being met regardless of ownership. Just owning land doesn’t mean control on a day to day basis. That can rest with tenants, the state (planning, environ designations) etc etc; and finally how many people own the largely more productive half of Scotland? A lot. You can see this pattern in Andy’s book. Counties with lots of mountain and moor tend to have some ownerships of large acreages (though often lowish value), counties in the east which are dominated by lowland farmland have few large landowners. There are outliers of course but comparing our ownership patterns with some other European nations rather overlooks the differences in land characteristics.

      Reply

      • well then, surely the poorer the land then the less appropriate it is to take rental from it. Huge areas of Scotland are not of sufficient quality to support a family Farm and pay for the running and administration of a Sporting Estate,

        Reply

        • SS
          Rents do reflect land quality. A hill farm rent will clearly be very much lower per acre than a Lothian arable farm. In fact in many areas of semi upland the farm rent is actually less than the rent you’d get for the house alone.
          The difficulty of sustaining farms in some areas is much more a function of the economics of farming than rents .

          Reply

          • Andrew, you make no mention of the running of the farm, the tenant having to renew fixed equipment, the upping of rent due to the improvement of the land. Now to get back to the point, you have told us that the very big landowners are mostly on the land with ‘low productivity’ so how much of a % of the profit is acceptable to go out as rent? My factor has told me that he could get 100% rise in rent if he put the farm on the open rent market. yes he maybe could but then there would be no money spent on drains, lime, reseed, fences, ditches. Landlords don’t appreciate the money we spend on improving their asset. I know lowland rents are higher than upland rents but would you agree that there gets to a point that the ground aint good enough to support a family and pay for the running of an estate. Come on Andrew tell us something interesting about the big estates, it is just so easy to kill me off every time with the law this and price that. There is a divide there lets explore it.

          • SS
            If problems are going to be addressed it is important to understand the law as it exists. If law makers don’t then they’ll develop the wrong solutions. The law is already clear that the landlord renews (the tenant repairs – scope for argument about when renewal needed admittedly) and you can’t be rented on improvements. Your farm may well let for 100% more on the open market but that rent would include marriage value (probably) and scarcity so not likely t be the same as your rent.
            I think it likely the law will be changed in the current review to iron out areas of friction but what is clear already is that law provides a good deal of protection for the tenant. We may need to consider how the make sure its implemented properly but that can’t be beyond the wit of man.
            I agree there will be farms where supporting a family under current farming conditions may be very difficult. I suspect on some it would be difficult even if no rent at all. This comes back to my point about farm economics. Given that farm support will continue to fall the structure of our industry will need to adapt to this. That will mean that some farms that exist as single units now won’t by say 2020. If Scotland wanted to more actively support the kind of farming structure you, I think envisage, then it would need to commit hugely more funds over time. Have a look at subsidy charts for EU v Norway spending. That isn’t going to happen not least because our farm policy is set in Brussels. What you or I think of that will, I suspect, be largely beside the point. We’ll be in the business of seeing how we can work with what we’re given.

          • So if such farms are uneconomic, how can the laird justify extracting a rent?
            Where is said rent to come from? The tenants capital? or his wifes off farm salary?
            This is the story of scotland, from 19th century crofters paying more per acre than lincolnshire farmers, down to the moonzie case where the tenant must donate his sfp to cover the excess rent.
            Landlords seeking profit where no profit exists, to drive their speculative business model , and excessive lifestyle.
            The european model must be followed, after all we are a part of europe , which has poor land too, but we also have lots of land that could be farmed a whole lot better if the unearned rent collectors in the middle were cleared away.

          • Hector
            And go and look at what farming is like in the less productive parts of Europe. It’s barely above subsistence and land abandonment remains a live issue which it isn’t here.
            As I said above farm structures almost certainly been to be more flexible here to cope with economic conditions. Just because a farm made sense 100 years ago will it now? Possibly not but our legal framework is helping to preserve that structure in aspic.
            And before you make the point landownership has not, in general, remained unchanged over the past century. Look at the 1872 census and now and the change is dramatic.

  77. Andrew

    Since 1953 , how much has farmland increased in value ?.
    Since 2003 , how much has farmland increased in value ?.

    Reply

    • GD
      Would need to look up. But what’s your point? I thought the issue was rents and they’re not set relative to land value. All sorts of things effect land values – the biggest of which is demand from farmers who are the biggest purchasers of farmland

      Reply

  78. Land abandonment not an issue here??? you are having a laugh!
    There are a million scottish hectares or more without a subsidy currently because they were unstocked in 2000 to 2002.
    This area has grown considerably since.
    If this land was in the hands of farmers, not big landlords, it would still be farmed.
    You also say that a farm viable 100 years ago may not be now, what about an estate ?
    Just because estates may have been viable 100 years ago, why keep them now when clearly they are unviable without massive public cash.?
    Who is in greater surplus in scotland, working farmers who look after the land or absentee lairds living in london or the cayman islands on eu monies tax free?

    Reply

    • Yes the use of Trusts as tax effiecient vehicles has distanced landowners from the land as they no longer feel they own it so they live elsewhere.

      And yes lots of land abandonment on large arable units too where large machines have broken drains, can no longer gain access, its too steep for top heavy machinery,too small a field or compaction with these big machines has created waterlogged areas.

      Reply

      • Trusts have more uses than tax efficiency – in fact much of the tax efficiency has been eroded in recent years. And it certainly does not necessarily detach the beneficiary from the estate or land in question.
        There’s an interesting big = bad, small = good message being portrayed here which I don’t see in practice. Come and see our farms if you like. I’m not suggesting we’re perfect but its farming at scale but with professional management, agronomist advise, soil health an important element and no broken drains and no land abandonment. In fact we got back into production land last year which had been abandoned to long term set aside by the previous small scale owner occupier. So lets not over simplify characterisations of the way the world is. There are good, bad and indifferent at all scales and that’s largely down to human influence.

        Reply

    • Hector
      That land won’t ave been farmed for generations. It’s high hill, rock and bog and can sustain little if any farming. Hence the need for a Scottish clause not to see it artificially dragged into the farming system just to claim subsidy. So its not abandoned.
      If an estates not viable it either gets sold or the owner subsidises it. There are no monies available to an estate owner that aren’t available to all farmers, woodland owners etc. the tax breaks are exactly the same ones that apply to you or any other farmer on business assets. In fact estates are likely to be treated less favourably for tax as much won’t qualify for APR or BPR.

      Reply

  79. Andrew, do us all a favour and stop the comedy.
    We all know there is hardly a sheep to be seen west of the A9, and all that land was farmed up till recently.
    Farmers never abandon land, it goes against their natural instinct to grow food.
    Its the estate owners who evict/rent rack tenants and abandon the land.
    Those estates also close down the in hand farming as they cant pay managers , shepherds etc. Those farms would still be farmed if in family hands
    And its not a level playing field in the subsidy game, with estates running off with huge sums at tenants expense, as reported in saturdays scotsman.
    Tenants cannot hide their income in the cayman islands either.

    Reply

    • Can anyone think of any other industry where specifically what you rent is what you have to continually improve and manage? Is there any other example of someones asset being improved worked, invested in, and generally, the value increased by an individual with no ownership of the said asset YET pays the owner an annual fee/rent for doing so.
      I really hope that the government does not waste time tinkering with the symptoms, the tenure system is broken and it needs fixed. We have opened up the bonnet and we are all looking in at the engine/gearbox which is spluttering and jammed. I and the vast majority of family farm tenants want a refit, new engine and gearbox. Ideally a brand new vehicle, scrap this old one. The land agents don’t need this vehicle to work they make their money from everyone having to push it along and work out what might be wrong. The land agents are reluctantly suggesting that we pour in some ‘radweld’ change a couple of filters and carry on. Everything comes to an end, it is the end of the road for this old heap of junk. Lets invest in a brilliant new vehicle which moves forward with fairness instead of reverse.

      Reply

      • That brilliant new vehicle of course being you getting to buy a farm at one price, against the owners wishes, which will be worth circa 25% more the very next day. I’d like a new vehicle just like it but it doesn’t mean it’s right or likely to support the small farmer you’re so find of. After some nice cashing in with farms hoovered up by larger farmers we’ll see farm aggregation speed up not slow down.
        I imagine you’ll argue that your happy for resale to be constrained etc. Sorry but I just don’t buy that that wouldn’t be argued away through the passage of any bill.

        Reply

        • Thats just scaremongering. There will be no great sell off post ARTB, and clawback should be completely workable if it happens in isolated cases.
          Since in your words the vast majority of tenants are delighted with their landlords, i dont see that many actually buying by ARTB.
          In any case, if the land increases in value overnight by ARTB, thats surely a good thing, as lairds are not averse to the same uplift by rack rent eviction..

          Reply

      • Well said slurry stirrer.

        Reply

    • Hector
      There’s plenty of and west of the A9 as you put it which hasn’t been farmed for generations. Much of it wouldn’t have had an IACS number until slipper farming came along.
      Where farming did take place numbers have fallen because of decoupling. A sizeable number of farmers have cut stock, on which they lost £s per head, to cut the amount of their subsidy which they erode. You know that as well as I. That’s why those in the sector want headage payments to encourage production up again.
      So nice try to pin this on landlords but these are decisions taken by farmers who by cutting output increase margin.

      Reply

      • Utter rubbish.
        “Not farmed for generations”????
        since when was 12 years a generation?
        Farmers may have reduced stock, but its only estates who abandon land completely.
        The two are entirely different.

        Reply

        • Hector
          Not quite sure where the 12 yrs came from but my point, for clarity, was that vast acreages in the north and west were not before slipper farming IACS registered because they weren’t farmed and hadn’t been for a long time. Why? Not land abandonment but because it made no economic sense.

          Reply

          • These farms did make economic sense for a farmer, but not to pay a landlord too.
            Who is more essential to the rural economy? farmer or landlord?
            Get rid of the surplus lairds i say.

          • Ok, hector. If these farms couldn’t afford to ay a rent because they produce so little why would any farmer buy it to farm it? Your model appears to work only if land is treated as a free good which under no sensible economic model is it such.

  80. Excellent analogy, Slurry Stirrer.

    The current system is flogging a dead horse. Radical reform is urgently needed for progress.

    Reply

    • Except for mis diagnosing the problem, misrepresenting the legal system and suggesting a solution which won’t do what SS claims to want which is protecting the family farm. Other than that excellent!!

      Reply

      • Andrew, you painted the dark picture again, do you honestly see there being no advantage for a community if some farms within it, could break away from the large estate? Can you expand a bit on the “cashing in”? you always go on about the law, but above you conveniently forgot about it to deliver us the doom and gloom scenario which could be so easily avoided with some simple laws.
        Bearing in mind that you are primarily opposed to the ARTB because of property rights, and you clearly have a problem with the tenant getting a 25% discount. What if the Government were to pick up the 25% difference with the land fund? Neil King, how would this sit legally?

        Reply

        • SS
          Clearly you could have laws to stop buying and flipping but I think in practice any proposals for these would be watered down in the passage through parliament largely because such restrictions for any meaningful period would not be in the interests of many seeking radical reform. I very much suspect your motives are entirely related to the success of your farm – your passion in this regard is clear – but there will be plenty of opportunists happy to take advantage of your efforts in promoting reform should you be successful. I think it would be naive to think they don’t exist.
          Your correct in that I am opposed to ARTB in principle but I also think it won’t, in general terms, deliver a good result for farming. The benefit to some will be outweighed by the loss to the many of a meaningful tenanted sector.
          Do I have sympathy for those with poor landlords. Of course. So lets sort the issues specific to those relationships out. But I do not believe that should be done by forced sale.
          Incidentally the 25% you suggest the land fund picks up could start to amount to a very serious sum very quickly. Lets say 1000 tenants (a sixth of the total bought) and the average 25% payment was £200,000. That’s £200,000,000. Yikes. Then there’s he claims for consequential loss to the remainder of the estate etc etc. your exposing the government to a huge potential funding issue. I think someone estimated in 2003 the potential cost of ARTB to the government could be £500,000,000 – and that’s without paying 25% of the purchase cost. Is that really the most cost effective way for the public purse to sort out the issues we discuss? I think not.

          Reply

          • I find it quite incredible that landlords should expect compensation from govt for selling an asset at its market value.
            The 50 % discount on tenanted land is well established when one one laird sells to another laird, so where is the loss by selling to a tenant?
            As to compensation for devalueing the estate, if all the tenants buy, then problem solved.

          • Hector
            But if the owner sells to a tenant the discount is conventionally less because of the marriage of the two interests. That is shared either 50/50 or thereabouts. The government top up wasn’t my idea remember.
            Consequential loss is a well establish principle where the state uses a CPO for say a road scheme. It’s also embedded in the pre-emptive RTB in the 2003 Act.
            ARTB will leave owners with remaining assets sometimes devalued by the loss of adjacent land – a large house left without amenity land is the obvious example.

          • Its quite simple to fix, ARTB will do the job, with landlords in breach of the lease first for the chop.

        • There’s no *legal* difficulty with the Govt taking on some of the costs of ARTB, it’s a matter of political will.

          (Having said that, there’s the EU concept of “state aid” against the public sector bankrolling the private in any shape or form although I can’t imagine funding ARTB would be any more against that than the Land Fund already is at present. But you’d need to ask a lawyer far more expert than me about that sort of thing.)

          One other thing which *is* within my experience – ARTB won’t be a “simple law”. That’s not a reason not to do it, of course. But devil in detail. Your (Slurry Stirrer’s) post above introducing concepts such as ring-fencing for the future has gone 80% of the way there, though.

          Reply

  81. I think what I can”t get my head round is some of these absentee landowners own some of the most beautiful countryside in Scotland and if it was me I would want to go round it every day even if only for the views. What is the point of owning land in such a beautiful area unless you going to live on it.
    And before anyone asks I have been to a few other countries but nothing beats here.
    I am sure the other tenants on here feel the same and have a real personal interest and love for the land they live on.

    Reply

    • I agree with you as to the sheer beauty of much of Scotland but I’m not sure we can sensibly get to a point where you can only own something if you enjoy it every day. Does it for nstance matter if an estate owner on, lets say Skye, decides to live and work in Inverness (I assume this wouldn’t worry anyone) or London? As long as they are interested and engaged I for one am not concerned where they live.

      Reply

      • OK, so now we are down to ‘property rights’ which can be protected to a degree with law and the pill sugared with cash for the Laird. So market value has been duly paid. That leaves us with the ‘loss to the many of a meaningful tenanted sector’ I am intrigued to explore what exactly will be lost and to whom. Firstly i think we are all in agreement that there will be absolutely no loss to the new owner occupier. So, and i am trying to be really fair, the loss would be to a potential new entrant who has no ground and is waiting for the tenant to retire or die. I think it is wrong to stop ARTB in order to sort the new entrant problem. Solution is simple! initiate the ARTB and every holding that buys then has a ‘2015 new entrant clause’ this is a retirement scheme for old farmers where they have the option of taking a lump sum payment for the farm and the young guy slowly moves in OR they take a smaller payment and the new guy takes a tenancy. Family members/handing on will not be restricted or qualify for lump sums. Remember there is no way to sell on the open market.

        Reply

        • by the way, it is a bit cheeky to pretend to have new entrants and a tenanted sectors best wishes at heart. When no decent tenancies are being given out and estates are taking formerly tenanted ground back in hand!

          Reply

          • SS
            It is and it isn’t. Tenancies are the only meaningful way in for a new entrant but I accept that not many go that way – usually because of rent and risk. The new entrant can pay less (usually) and is a higher risk of failing. You’re also correct that land has often reverted back in hand. Often to be farmed via a contract. That’ll be driven by CAP, tax, better returns and control issues but sometimes genuinely because of a fear of letting. Part of this process is the reorganisation of farming not bigger units which we’ve been arguing about. To be clear I’m agnostic as to size of unit as long as being used properly. There was a good piece in the FW recently on this very subject.
            But letting isn’t just about new entrants. It’s about a system which provides cheap (Ok, cheaper than other routes) access to farm land for farmers who want to expand, farmers who don’t want to tie capital up and provides the possibility (if the system worked well) of long term access to land without having to buy it. Basically having a tenanted sector makes the industry more flexible and responsive to change.
            I don’t know what the correct % of let would be. I don’t think there is one but it needs to be meaningful to fulfill its function.
            Interestingly our proposed solutions post ARTB look a little like recognising some of the downsides and tryingvt find solutions. Don’t break it in the first place might be easier.
            And I noticed your rather nifty closing off of property rights as dealt with by legal protections and cash from HM tax payer. I’d still think it was wrong if the government said owners forced to sell would get 150% of value. Money isn’t the point.

      • Surely this puts costs up as two homes have to be maintained as well as the carbon footprint with all that travelling between the two homes,not very” green” is it.

        .As for work we are using the tool that would allow you to work from home however remote, the internet has changed the way a lot of people work.

        And finally how can you be interested and engaged if you are not on site to observe with your own eyes.

        Reply

  82. Andrew

    You will be delighted to know that I have been informed that land values have increased by 10,800% since 1953 . If the farm tenants of Estates were owners of their farms , can you imagine how much better the farmers , their families and farms would be ?.

    Reply

    • GD
      A quick calculation confirms your sums I think. Inflation over the same period was I think just under 2000%. But what’s your point? It seems you are as interested in the capital value growth. I thought this was all about farming and being freed from landlord ism not about the money! That growth to be much use to you means selling the farm. How’s that help the public? Yes you can borrow against the value but what any banker will want to know is what cash can you generate. Servicing debt is the key not securing it.

      Reply

      • I understand as a fair factor you would not use the increase in the value of the land as a reason to say to a tenant that the landlord needs a return on the capital value so the rent must go up but others are less shy.

        And a final question are rents headed downwards now from 2015? As far as I am aware area payments will be less than the current single farm payment so our income will be going down.

        Reply

      • ARTB will return the tenants capital back to the tenant, all the cash laid out on drains, buildings and houses will finally return home.

        Reply

        • Hector
          Thats compensation for improvements, What ARTB would give you is a slug of the capital value for the farm. Did you pay for that at ingo? No, thought not. The two shouldn’t be confused.

          Reply

  83. for me the picture is getting clearer, as to why we have the question of unfairness within land ownership. The landlords are now enjoying the exciting prospect of even greater choice. They can now have access to SFP without livestock, They can plant virtually any amount of land to get forestry payments. They are looking forward to basic area payments on sporting hill land. They can farm in hand or let out, 6month grazer, 364 grazer, SLDT, LDT, fully secure, or enter contract farming. Renewable projects with grants and subsidies, Borrow a huge amount from investors or banks. They can choose to invest or not in a tenanted unit, they can increase the rental every three years. Mineral rights, water right, sporting rights, way-leaves. They can even choose whether they would like to pay tax or not. This colossal choice runs alongside the privilege of owning land, all in all a fairly good deal. Then along comes the ARTB and it is just such a major assault on their attitude. The ARTB is NEVER going to go away until it has been properly dealt with, put your business hats on and appreciate what you have got. Because before you know it, the red grouse will be the national bird of Scotland and it will be flying along on the wind of change!

    Reply

    • SS
      If only it were that easy. You are at liberty to go and buy a farm if you think that’s best for you. But I think you should find one where the seller wants to sell.
      I’m not sure if we can take this further so I wish you folks well and we’ll no doubt cross swords on Andy’s next relevant blog.

      Reply

  84. Tenancies are not the best way for new entrants. The most successful new entrants i know had good jobs in farm management or related field then sold their house and bought a farm in their early forties, often working it in tandem with the job.
    This is the best model for new entrants, not slaving for a laird on a rack rent only to be booted out aged 50.
    However for said model to succeed , there has to more land available to buy, hence the need to break up estates by ARTB.
    Land agents of course dont promote the more mature new entrant as they cant rob them the like they do the younger type on an sldt.

    Reply

    • what i am trying to hint at, is for Landlords to wake up and sell willingly(tactically) to 91 act tenants, leave a legacy, get in touch with the people. Willing seller/ willing buyer. their problem seems to be inability to broaden the mind, and no doubt the land agents have got them right where they want them.

      Reply

  85. Andrew.

    In our area it is very obvious which farms are owner/occupied and those that are tenanted . The owner/occupied farms are far better maintained with a lot of diversification and other income within the farm whereas the tenanted farms seem to be badly maintained by the Estate and the farmers drained of any enthusiasm for diversification .

    Reply

  86. Exactly so Wee shooie,
    Andrew Howard seems to delve into the nitty gritty, without looking at the wider holistic problem of what you have just described Wee shooie.
    If I were to give you evidence A.H. that owner occupied farms were more successful than tenanted farms would you change your mind on the ARTB?
    If I were to give you evidence A.H of how a small Country can have 100% owner occupiers and still manages to have more let land that we do in Scotland, would you agree that we should have more owner occupation ?
    If I were to give you evidence A.H. of how a Country’s inequality has direct correlation to ill health, would you agree our Country should have more equality.
    I know that we are all aiming for a more fruitful, prosperous and sustainable agricultural sector…..aren’t we ?

    Reply

    • Would that be Norway? Look how much money they poor into supporting farmers and it still doesn’t work. Last time I was here i saw what was in effect abandoned land because despite sky high subsidies farmers still couldn’t make money – or enough – in such a wealthy but expensive country.
      I can imagine that inequality does impact on health outcomes but are you saying that giving ARTB will increase health inequality? Come off it. Scotlands health problems are in west central Scotland and i don’t recall many of them being farm tenants.

      Reply

  87. Another problem needing addressed is rent notices.
    If no rent notice is received, than no rent should be due, simple.

    Reply

  88. Hebridean Farmer

    SITUATIONS VACANT:
    Needed gardener/grounds man. To up keep and maintain a large garden extending to 350acres. You will be responsible for drainage and weed control and the maintenance of all fixed equipment. You will be under the supervision of the Garden manager and ultimately the garden Owner who. A 200 year old house goes with the job, which we will expect you to maintain also. You are required to give 1 years notice. Salary -£7000 which you will pay us in two installments.

    Reply

    • OK, I’ll offer -£14,000. Isn’t that what happens in practice? Of course i get to sell all the output and get a payment from the EU each year which probably exceeds that anyway. Oh, and the landlord has to replace everything worn out. Wondering whether i’ve undercooked my bid.

      Reply

      • Plus you will need at least another £5000 a year to heat the old farmhouse that has no double glazing or central heating,is very draughty and rattles to bits on every windy day.

        This was brought home to me when when I saw the yearly heating bill for my sisters brand new, double glazed, well insulated similar sized house which was about a fifth of mine.

        At the very least we want to see all estate houses brought up to 21st century standards in terms of energy efficiency or knocked down and rebuilt.

        It may happen on your well run estate Andrew but not every estate is as efficient as yours. This can easily be afforded if not from cash reserves then by equity release from the vast capital tied up in the land which has accrued since the time of King Duncan in the 11th century

        Reply

  89. The lairds will targeting even more money from the new SRDP to fund their forestry investments.
    Paid for by tenant farmers modulation money who are excluded from forestry and most other grants.

    Reply

    • Hector
      Forestry is a key landuse objective of the government. The support it gets is tiny given the potential benefits in jobs etc. Better than the return from farming.
      Tenants can access all the SRDP funds except forestry unless by agreement with their landlord which is not unreasonable given it’s a permanent land use change.

      Reply

  90. Andrew

    You mentioned the Tories giving Right to Buy of long lease flats . Have you asked anyone who managed to buy their house if it made any difference to their life and the care of their home .

    Reply

    • Wee Shooie
      I’m sure it made a dramatic difference to many people. It also led to a supply shortage and some made a considerable , and you might argue, disproportionate financial gain. However this wasn’t what i was referring to. I referred to the purchase of long leases – largely in london. If the state decides to sell it’s own assets in pursuit of a public policy objective then thats one thing but selling an individuals assets to another is different.

      Reply

    • Wee Shooie
      Sorry, I see on re-reading you were referring to Long Lease flats. To answer the question maybe in some cases but in most cases they were held by the already well off – think about where a lot of the London Estates are located – so it wasn’t the same dynamic as the CH sales.

      Reply

  91. Propaganda on SF re bute estate, blaming tenants for dilapidations.

    Reply

    • Blaming tenants for the dilapidation of their own property! Sounds like they have been getting some long lets back in hand. And only then are they able to invest on fixed equipment, what on earth happened to all the rental accrued over this long period of time? I tell you, not very much of it went back into the farms, the chief exec has more or less admitted this.
      So now we get the announcement that £8m is going to be spent, right on the eve of tenure reform. Well lets not fall for this stunt, where has all the rental gone? what will happen in 40 years when everything needs repaired and replaced? It is completely unsustainable to allow vast areas of this country to have their future in the hands of absentee lairds. History repeating itself again, big chunk of money today then not a bean for the next 80 years.

      Reply

      • Its up to the landlord to repair and replace, not the tenant.
        In any case the worst dilapidation cases are where the landlord has evicted and then left it empty.
        Chances are the houses were built by tenants in the past, so lairds dont care when they fall down.

        Reply

        • Hector
          As I’m sure you know the tenant repairs and landlord replaces when can no longer be economically repaired. And there is where the problems start. Tenant asks for new shed. Landlord says (sometimes with justification) but it wouldn’t be shot if it had been repaired and on goes the argument.

          Reply

  92. Wee shooie, you have no chance of a reply from the landed elite. This is exactly how the debate needs to be broadened out, but there persists a tactic to restrict this debate to tenancy matters. The government are initiating land reform because everything is failing due to a lack of key decision makers across rural Scotland.

    Reply

  93. S S

    I was wondering about why there is no reply from The Chosen One who now is appointed by the landed elite to try and answer questions and opinions .
    Right to Buy for former council house occupiers has transformed the lives of the occupants who now as Rabbie Burns would say have now got ‘ a pith o sense and pride o worth ‘ .

    Maybe Andrew should visit the owners of former council houses ,who were tenants before , and hear first hand how their lives and houses have been transformed . All you have to do is jump into your 4×4
    and knock on some doors .

    Reply

    • Wee Shooie
      I know it suits to characterise people in certain ways but to burst the balloon its a SAAB with 95,000 miles on the clock and when i i’m not travelling I cycle to work. 10 miles each way. Good for mulling over some of the guff I see on this site.
      As I said above if the state elects to sell its assets then it can make that case to the public. I do not agree there is a parrallel with privately owned property.
      Where there are parrallels is that a large part of CH RTB was about votes and winning them. It also led to a huge shortage of supply of affordable homes. I accept that some individuals did very well, and i know some thank you, but to argue it was a wholly beneficial policy is simplistic and certainly no support for making an individual sell their property to another.

      Reply

  94. Andrew

    So you never use a 4×4 at your work . I find that very surprising considering the thousands of acres on Moray Estates . There cannot be many hills and fords on your estate for you to manage .
    I thought at least a basic land rover defender would be essential for your work .
    If the same family still stay in the council house they bought , how has that created a shortage of affordable homes . People usually stay in one home , so how have they created a shortage . Were you going to move them out onto the street to create an available house . But then this is where the landlord’s favourite word ‘ CHURN ‘ comes in to play . All that does is to create an unstable life for others .

    Reply

    • Wee Shooie
      I manage perfectly well without a 4×4 thanks and on the rare occasion i need one – we must look after our roads and tracks – i can use one from those of our team that need them.
      I agree with the analysis of HF (to an extent) that part of the flaw in CH sales was the failure to reinvest the funds. Having said that if you sell a load of your affordable housing stock it will diminish supply not least as the proceeds often fell short of the cost of building new. And houses did come back into circulation through death or people moving which is how people got off the housing list. I suspect that is why the Scottish Government has moved to restrict the right to buy in some areas. Ironic?
      To go back to farms – they did used to come on the market to let – and still do in England. Why not here. They have CAP and the same tax rules. They don’t have our politics though and as result supply exists becuase the owner feels confident in making long term decisions.

      Reply

  95. Andrew,
    The resultant housing shortage was a mismanagement by the tories. The money raised from the sale of housing stock was not reinvested as well you know.
    Although the CH RTB was a torie initiative I applaud it as it brought about a degree of equality, and a great sense of pride for those who bought, and a rise in housing standards throughout the “bought ” sector.
    I will continue to argue for the broader aspect of this, and that is for those farms that are in a 91 tenancy, and unlikely to be returned to estate ownership in the foreseeable future , would be better in the ownership of the farmer, who can then go on and invest in the underutilised asset. This would create an economic uplift, and would also result in a more equal society due to the break up the “estate” that has such negative overtones here in Scotland. I understand that this is “toxic” to the very few landed elite, which has sent them running to announce millions of pounds of investment in a bid to stave of Land Reform. However, as a nation Scotland must take the necessary steps to address the shameful inequality that persists. An opportunity has arisen …….ARTB…… a perfect solution to an age old problem.

    Reply

  96. The tenanted land in my area, looking at one Estate only, is around 55,000 acres. And as the blog suggests is held in a ‘minority interest’ The community is dwindling away, due to the lack of opportunity. This estate owner is opposed to renewable energy, has stated that investment for repair and replacement is not possible due to the sheer scale of ownership. Revenue is generated from farm rents, housing rents and some sporting activity. Current any farms taken back in hand are being run by estate(subsidy attraction) but to be fair some ground is let to new entrants and some rented out seasonally. On this seasonal let ground the farm houses are empty and almost at the stage of demolition. So new entrants have to reside in their own homes and keep their full time jobs because of the uncertainty with short term letting. The established farmer who rents in some of this ground does not care and in fact likes the current system because it creates ‘churn’ in local people and family displacement. An altogether unattractive part of Scotland to live in.
    Doom and gloom over, problems identified, solution as follows: Housing regeneration and importantly house building, Investment in projects to create jobs and economic activity. Security and permanent ties to local area. Best practice for land/soil/flora/fauna, environment. Great stuff, but here is the crucial bit, these projects have to work without the terrible burden of skimming off a percentage of the profits. How do we ensure this? OWNERSHIP. A strong and mixed economically active community needs a mixed pattern of ownership. My community is living in a rural land monopoly and when i look around, nothing is happening. We need a review of the ownership structure of large estates within any one parish.

    Reply

    • SS
      I don’t know your area so I have to guess as to the issues that might be playing out. I doubt there as simple as landownership. I’m sure other issues come into play. However what is clear is that whatever is damaging your area in the way you say it is is not having the same effect here. So why should we suffer the damage of a policy proposed by you to solve your local problems. Perhaps they should be addressed more specifically and locally on the ground.
      What does interest me in your last post is the notion that you can’t achieve things because of skimming profit off the land – i assume you mean the estate. Don’t you think the bank will want their share if you borrow to buy? There is a cost to the occupation of land. If it can’t afford to pay rent then it is highly unlikely to support any amount of leverage to buy it as the latter will be more expensive and less forgiving if interest rates go up. Try asking the bank to go easy because the agricultural economy hasn’t been so good. This points to pressures of agricultural profitability not necessarily tenure.

      Reply

  97. Looking at the map above makes you realise how much of Scotland is unproductive.

    The light blue areas look like they are predominantly hill, whereas the concentration of tenanted land is focused on the most productive areas in the east and south. The exceptions are Aberdeenshire and Caithness where owner-occupiers feature to a greater extent. These two areas also suffer from the same issues as those referred to above, young moving out to urban centres, lack of investment etc. This has to demonstrate a lack of productive land as a resource, an ageing farming population and the effect of market forces rather than a simple landownership issue.

    Reply

    • And most of Scotlands arable soils are inherently poor and are being continuously cropped with cereals in persuit of cash to fund ever higher rents. Yields are most definitely falling on these continuous cereal areas and everyone involved on the land will have to learn to give something back to our soils and not be forever taking from them or the soils will not be there in the future to be farmed.

      With a lot of these soils being of glacial origin they need to be farmed sensitivly as they are very fragile,worked just when conditions are right and respond best to rotational farming with grass breaks to maintain organic matter levels in the soil. The ever reducing numbers on the land mean that more and more operations are being carried by out by huge high horespower machines when conditions are poor thereby further degrading the soils.

      As an example of organic matter loss my daughter was able to photograph gully erosion in Scottish fields for her higher geography and did not have to travel to a third world country to see this example of cereal monoculture damage

      Reply

      • I think there’s a fair point in there but it would also be fair to say the industry has come to understand a good deal about soil health and the various techniques available to maintain and improve it. We certainly have a number of cultivation and agronomy ideas in motion which appear to be paying dividends. Size is no measure of expertise. Down to skills, advice (ability to take it often a key attribute) and marrying of old understanding and modern technology.

        Reply

    • Tom, Large areas of scotland are unproductive because no one has had the chance to improve them.
      Tenants on short leases improve at their own peril, and so many have been made examples of by landlord made law that it is now seldom attempted. Even where a heritable tenancy confers security, rent racking on improvements ensures their unviability.
      Google innes of durris who was tenant of durris estate and was swindled out of £90,000 of improvements by the duke of gordon. Legally of course.
      That was not an isolated case, and thereafter men like innes embarked for america, where landlords could not steal their cash.

      Reply

  98. According to the Farm at the Back of Beyond blog (http://gentleotterblog.blogspot.pt/2014/02/lies-damn-lies-and-statistics.html), Jim Hunter is now calling for ARTB to be extened to Limited Duration Tenancies.

    Reply

  99. Neil, many of us (tenants) do not recognise the aims of the Agricultural Holdings Legislation Review Group in their aim to improve tenancy. We do not wish to be tenants any longer but we do wish to continue farming our farms as owner occupiers.

    Professor Hunter also raised the very valid points of abolishing the current Agricultural laws (which are overly complex and can only be deciphered by a select few Ag lawyers), plus inclusion of tenant farming with crofting, farming, small holdings, etc rather than being a separate issue.

    Professor Hunter’s speech to the tenant farmers may have sounded radical to some in the room but radical reform is required whether some liked it or not.
    I would like to hear your thoughts on the ARTB being extended to the LDT farmers as well as all 1991 Secure Tenants.

    Reply

    • ARTB is the answer, and in order to secure the lairds co operation such sales would not be subject to capital gains tax.

      Reply

    • For the record, Jim Hunter did not argue for ARTB to be extended to Limited Duration Tenancies. His comments referred to Limited Partnerships. I know no-one who advocates ARTB for LDTs and SLDTs. I oppose it and would oppose it if it were ever to be proposed.

      Reply

  100. My apologies for wording this incorrectly.

    My personal feelings would be to concentrate on the ARTB for 1991 Secure Tenants although I absolutely agree that the proposal to change the existing agriculture laws are sorely required.

    Reply

    • GO, if in the last sentence of your earlier comment you were asking my thoughts on extending ARTB to *limited partnerships* (not LDTs), then I would say it should not be because the vast majority of LPs were entered into in relatively recent times by people who knew full well they were signing up for a finite period so to give them ARTB would be to give them a pure windfall.

      Having said that there may be some cases in which an LP lease was taken in effect to permit succession to a secure tenancy by a non-near relative successor (as I gather was the background to the Riddell-Salvesen LP) where it may be unfair to exclude ARTB (especially if it was a grandchild which is now a near relative).

      Thus, perhaps the rule should be that there’s a default presumption against LPs having ARTB except in cases where there has been a history of ancestors having held a secure tenancy in the past. It will be difficult to frame an absolute definition for that except perhaps recourse to the Land Court to decide (Scotgov to bankroll legal costs of that). That’s hardly satisfactory, of course, but simply to include all LPs or exclude all of them would be manifestly unfair whichever choice was made.

      Reply

  101. He is calling for more security for all tenancy types though.
    Just reading a very good book called “yearning for the land” by an american called john warfield simpson. It deals primarily with the connection people have with the land they work.
    Part of the book follows the 1848 emigration of daniel muir from scotland to wisconsin in search of land ownership .
    His son would become famous as the father of conservation, john muir.
    Daniel muir sought to escape the feudal yoke and live on and work his own land, a situation denied to him in scotland.
    The author visited scotland in 2001 and found the feudal yoke alive and well.
    How little has changed since 1848, we scots must still emigrate to find land to call our own.

    Reply

  102. Thanks, Neil and yes, I stand corrected.

    Reply

  103. Andrew

    So get on your bike and chap some doors . The families that managed to buy their council house now take greater pride in their home . You will find that out from tour visits .
    I noticed that you side stepped the landlords favourite word ‘ CHURN. ‘ where landlords want a constant turnover of people trying to farm farmland on very insecure occupancy . This type of model of farming only suits established farmers who can pay even bigger rents to landlords . There would then be no chance of young people getting started in farming although I am sure ,, with crocodile tears , you will say there will .
    As for the letting of land in Scotland . The letting of land in Scotland has been drying up since the middle of the last century , mostly due to estates , for tax purposes , wanting to farm the ground themselves in hand . Estates , for tax purposes. , contract farming with big acreage farmers . Tenant farmers , through the unfortunate landlord’ s death duties or other unfortunate circumstances , fortunate to buy their farm and keep it as a family farm . Forestry on good farmland .
    Apart from ever increasing tax concessions and Freedom of Contract ( landlord’ s. euphemism for CHURN )
    for landlords what else would you like ???. I am sure you have an ever increasing list for all the land that was promised over 10 years ago , but. never appeared on the let market for farmland in Scotland .

    Reply

    • WS
      I haven’t suggested that no good came of CH RTB. There were also some downsides and i think some of the reasons are identified above. But note my earlier point CH were state owned property. It is one thing for the democratically elected to decide to sell that. Quite another to force one of it’s citizens to sell to another.
      Churn is a pretty unattractive word but nonetheless you misinterpret what I believe it means. It isn’t a desire of estates to keep switching tenants to gain advantage not least becuase there often isn’t any – the disruption being felt by all. It represents a freeing up of tenanted land where perhaps tenants are sitting, with no identifiable or will successor, in a farm becuase it suits their circumstances but may well be under farming it as they move to, or past, retirement. In the past such farmers just retired. Now we see some staying put. In some cases it may be an inability to fund a retirement but, and lets be honest, some it will suit – SFP, tax, cost of occupation etc mean moving on is not in their short term interests. Finding a way to encourage those farmers to retire may help create opportunity.
      One thing i do find curious is that given landlords are supposed to have spend their time pre 1948 kicking tenants out on a whim how many tenants, including on this blog, appear to have tenures going back well beyond 1948. The two don’t square.

      Reply

  104. Andrew

    How did Moray Estates acquire 40,000 acres ? .

    Reply

    • Probably nicked it off the church.
      The abbot of newbattle was reputedly roasted over a fire till he signed over the abbey lands to a laird.

      Reply

    • its all explained on our website. Crown charter in 1562 so I think that affords us some association and attachment to the land. No clergy roasted in the process as far as know to address Hector’s concerns.

      Reply

      • Ah so it was nicked off the church.
        And what about no CGT on sales to tenants under ARTB?

        Reply

        • Not nicked off the church, hector. The earldom was in the hands of the Crown due to the last earl having died without heirs.

          Reply

          • It would be interesting to peruse the said charter, which probably did not confer absolute ownership or the right to evict the occupants of the land.

        • Hector
          Why do you continue to think this is just about money. In fact I’m not sure CGT would apply anyway as effectively a CPO. BUT my view is ARTB wrong in principle and in in the effect it will have on the industry. Trying to sugar coat it with no CGT is missing my point completely.

          Reply

          • ARTB will galvanise the industry and produce the vibrancy so desired by govt.
            The only losers will be land agents and lawyers.
            CGT is a major barrier to all land sales, and if it was removed from sales to tenants, a lot of landlords might avail themselves of it freely.

          • Hector
            ARTB will set all sides at each others throats. What a plan for future success. In fact lawyers and land agents will probably have a lovely time.

  105. Yes, attachment to the land.
    It seems that lairds are the only ones allowed to have attachment to the land, or any certainty in their lives.
    As to pre 1948 tenants, they were not necessarily kicked out, just rented on their own improvements when they were aquired by the landlord at the lease expiry
    As written previously the period from 1880 to 1939 was an extreme agricultural depression, and tenants could not improve and just had to manage as best they could. Landlords actually were pleased to find tenants then, as area payments did not exist.
    Agricultural production was abysmal till security of tenure in 1948 gave tenants a clear signal that they would reap the benefit of their improvements.
    That was until 1958 when the tories banned assignation and introduced the open market rent test robbery.

    Reply

    • Yes Hector in the late 1800″s my grandfather took on some land that no other tenants wanted upon which no rent was charged for a number of years . The only cost to my grandfather was the valuation of the fences he had to take over at the princely sum of 12 shillings 6d. A bit of an agricultural recession then!!!!!

      Reply

    • Hector
      I’ve never said only owners have an attachment to land. I was making the point that they do have is a point often forgotten by some of the commentators on this blog. An almost disregard for the rights of the owner.
      Whilst I accept your point that understanding history is important to understand the context of where we are but I have a sense of somehow trying to right historical wrongs. I’m not clear what is to be gained about debating the rights and wrongs of actions in the 19th C when we should be trying to address moving forward from here. I know your version of moving forward is ARTB. OK, but lets not justify by reference to who did what 100+ years ago.

      Reply

      • Actions of 100 plus years ago are unfortuneately relevant as those were the days of freedom of contract, where you would return us to given half a chance.

        Everyone would like to have attachment to land, but how much does does one person need for “attachment”?
        I would argue 40,000 acres is stretching it a bit.

        Reply

        • So why does does Jim Hunter support freedom of contract?

          Reply

        • Hector
          What other assets do you propose to place limits on how much you can own. House too big, company too big, share portfolio too big. Why land and not other assets bringing wealth etc?

          Reply

          • Land is unique because it is finite, and concentrated ownership damages the nation.
            Houses , companies and share portfolios can be as big as the owners pocket without harming anyone.
            They can be contructed and deconstructed.
            Land cannot.

  106. seems like we should all abandon land reform! because the tenants up in Moray estate are so happy. what was all that earlier stuff about cries from a minority?

    Reply

    • SS
      I don’t recall ever saying they were – that’s a view for them to express not me.

      Reply

      • what about the rest of Scotland? you base your views on land ownership from what you see in Moray, right?

        Reply

        • glad you have conceded that tenants are best placed to express their own views and not Factors doing it for them.

          Reply

          • I’ve never thought anything else and I’m yet to come across anyone in my profession who wouldn’t share that view.

        • SS
          We can both only recount what we experience. It is a bit wider than Moray helped by role with SLE and sitting on TFF for 6 yrs or so.

          Reply

    • And one of the reasons they are so happy is probably because they still have one of those endangered species, a traditional salaried factor who cares personally how the estate looks,how it is is run, lives on the estate , talks to the tenants/community, we are after all people, and is is not outsourced (land agent), parachuted in for a day at a time, with the £ clock ticking every time they talk to someone who probably lives hundreds of miles away.

      A lot of organisations have learn”t the hard way that having salaried managers with a personal interest usually gives the best outcome for the buisness,outsourced management does not have the same personal involvement to motivate them to make the best decisions for the buisness.

      Reply

  107. Replying to hector (February 25, 2014 at 9:20 pm: “It would be interesting to peruse the said charter, which probably did not confer absolute ownership or the right to evict the occupants of the land.”)

    What makes you say the charter “probably” didn’t confer absolute ownership?

    Reply

    • Just a hunch.
      I believe a lot of charters to “estates” conferred the right to collect rents and recruit soldiers, but not a lot else, certainly not the right to remove all the inhabitants.

      Reply

      • hector, a charter to an estate (or anyone else) conferred “the full monty” of ownership which includes the right to collect rents and the right to remove tenants at the end of their leases. There’s no half way house of the right to collect rents but not to remove tenants. Recruiting soldiers is not a right of ownership. (It may be a right of being a clan chief but that’s not the same as being an owner of land.)

        Anyway, are you saying the Earl of Moray removed all the inhabitants of his estate? When did that happen?

        Reply

        • Every other highland estate cleared the people, why not moray?
          Maybe he didnt have the right to recruit soldiers, but the king probably obliged him to.

          Reply

          • EVERY Highland estate cleared the people? Can you prove that hector or is it just another of your “hunches”?

            But back to my question – when did the Earl of Moray remove “all the inhabitants” (your words) of his estates?

    • The charter was a crown grant which could be revoked.
      Most of the british empire is crown lease even today.

      Reply

      • Crown grants could only be revoked if part of the annexed estates and not confirmed in Parliament or granted during the minority of the sovereign. Neither applicable to a grant of the Earldom of Moray in the 1560s.

        Reply

  108. Of the 40,000 acres on moray estate, how much was common land in 1562 ?
    What has become of that land?

    Reply

    • (1) Probably quite a lot of it; (2) It was divided amongst the people who owned it in common.

      Reply

      • Now we are getting to the nub of the problem.
        A lot of it was common land, which was taken from the commoners who really owned it without payment or compensation.
        Refer to the book by andy wightman “the poor had no lawyers”
        page 66

        Reply

  109. Andrew

    Would you agree that when Moray Estates was formed all these years ago that the land within the estate was run like a dictatorship ?. Did the Estate take over even more land ‘ mysteriously. ‘ to become bigger ?.

    Reply

    • GD
      To be frank I have no idea how it was run in 1562 and it seems to me to be irrelevant. What on earth difference does it make in 2014. How about looking forward?

      Reply

      • Andrew, Tell us how much of moray estates was common land in 1562, and what became of it?

        Reply

        • Hector
          See response to GD. Personally I have no idea. My job is the future success and prosperity of our business, the people involved in it and hopefully the communities within it. That involves little or no consideration of the common land position in 1562.

          Reply

  110. Andrew, It may not matter to you , but the rest of us are very interested in this land which you lay claim to, which may have been largely common land .
    The book quotes Cosmo Innes who said that crown charters of land only really granted the thin strip of arable along the shore, and the unmapped, uncultivated wastes or commons were never considered.
    The aquisition of the commons by landlords while notionally “legal” after 1695 was certainly not moral or fair, and severely debilitated those who depended upon them.
    ARTB has been described as the return of stolen property, and that maybe closer to the truth than we thought.

    Reply

  111. Go back another 100 years and Norway still owned Shetland – perhaps we can offer Norway/Denmark the Shetlands on an ARTB basis to test the historic principles you are suggesting should apply?

    Reply

    • RR, are you having a laugh with that suggestion? keep that up and you too will be getting a letter from SLaE instructing you to keep off this blog.

      Reply

  112. Andrew

    So you mean that if a young man’s father stole a Saab car with 95000 miles on the clock , the father is sent to prison but his son still drives about in the car , that that is all right . To me , that is all wrong !!! . Is that , to you , right or wrong ? .

    Reply

  113. How did the poem go?
    The man who steals the goose from off the common is a thief, but not the man who takes the common from the goose .

    Reply

  114. The law locks up the man or woman,
    Who steals the goose from off the common.
    But leaves the greater villain loose,
    Who steals the common from the goose.

    The law demands that we atone.
    When we take things we do not own,
    But leaves the lords and ladies fine.
    Who take things that are yours and mine.

    The poor and wretched dont escape,
    If they conspire the law to break;
    This must be so but they endure
    Those who conspire to make the law.

    Reply

  115. mapping of land to determine ownership? lairds are highly allergic to this. I have read the history of how the estate i am on came into the hands of the current owners, and without giving my location away it was bought from a wealthy bunch who were gifted it from a king to try and put an end to the fighting between clans. This is all about history, last year is in the past, no wonder the lairds don’t want to talk about it. OWNERSHIP RIGHTS! lets have a wee look then.

    Reply

  116. Hector

    Very apt and interesting poem .
    This is the Establishment Law that Andrew conveniently chooses to ignore . Landowners and very wealthy people with vested interests made the law of the land not so long ago ie time of the Corn Laws . Maybe this is why so few people have so much land .

    Reply

  117. Andrew

    Talking about the law . Is it right or wrong that the son is able to drive about in the car stolen by his father ?.

    Reply

  118. Its all gone quiet.

    Reply

    • i like it Gentle dove. perfectly explains why the wrongs are still there for everyone to see today. I think land reform needs to be taken to the next level, with a legal investigation into all Estates and their land holdings, how did you get it? show us the maps? show us the signatures. To be quite honest if we just aim for ARTB then the Lairds have got off very lightly.

      Reply

  119. Maybe Andrew and his ‘ Team ‘ are going to knock on some doors . Estates still work in teams , you know . The knock on the door at night .

    Reply

    • its so easy for the ‘Team’ to destroy tenants feelings or the struggles they face, its subjective to us, but a funded mission for these professionals. But they cant destroy history! Come on lairds where are you? come and tell us why you are so crucial?

      Reply

      • I must say the posts of the last half day have taken on a somewhat surreal feel. Everyone seems to have convinced themselves of some historical wrong with no proof and then pronounced that the only solution is to give the land to them despite their being no evidence they were the wronged party in the first place.
        We can either have a sensible discussion about practical solutions to existing problems – and I don’t mean ARTB – and how we can move forward more productively. I repeat none of this will happen if you insist on thrashing around in ancient history.
        To answer GD’s SAAB point – and what if the father bought the SAAB? Presumably you would not wish to take that car from the son.
        In Moray Estates case whilst much of the estate formed part of the original charter some did not having been purchased and even of the original quite a lot has been sold and bought back over the centuries. And what of the vast investment in the estates over the years by the owners. Its ridiculously simplistic to suggest that land was all nabbed in ancient times and nothings happended since. Its equally ridiculous to suggest you try to untangle all that now. Of all the arguments I’ve heard for ARTB this certainly goes down as the most far fetched.
        Oh, and the ‘knock on the door at night’ insinuation is insulting and patently nonsense. Make you case by all means but lets leave the baseless behind.

        Reply

        • There is plenty proof of the highland clearances, which are a historic wrong that has never been righted.
          What if it is proven that crofters were evicted from their own common land?

          Reply

  120. Andrew

    He did not buy the car. It was stolen . But if you substitute the car for bars of gold bullion which can be melted down , maybe the story is not so farcical . Is it right or wrong ??.

    Reply

    • GD
      No, not correct. Nothing was stolen. Thats your phrase which i don’t think you could substantiate. The title to the land is perfectly clear and obviously underpins many other titles who have purchased from the estate over the centuries. This is a completely fruitless argument.
      Encouragingly the Ag Holdings Review Group have decided that looking forward is a more productive approach.

      Reply

  121. The proof is there, we just have to unearth it.
    The common land is a good starting point as everyone understands what it is, and are starting to understand how it was pilfered.
    Andy wightman refers to 6 land grabs in his book, but the seventh land grab is the seizing of tenants improvements over the centuries.
    By the time we get all the facts out, SLE might wish they had agreed to ARTB a bit quicker.

    Reply

    • OK Hector. Lets see the facts. It will make a pleasant change from allegation and accusation.

      Reply

      • Slurry stirrer is right, let the estates prove their own ownership.

        Let them provide proof of improvements as they were forced to do in ireland.

        The irish land commision ran from 1880 to 1999, 120 yrs of work.

        Reply

  122. Andrew

    Forget about your estate .
    I will try and spell this out . If a father stole and his son benefitted from the proceeds , do you think that that is right or wrong ??.

    Reply

    • GD
      Patently but perhaps, given this is supposed to be a metaphor for land ownership, you might identify who you think has “stolen” land – to the extent that your could demonstrate this in a court of law not just throw the accusation around as justification as to why you, or others, should get to buy it. And anyway wouldn’t you be handling stolen goods?

      Reply

  123. Andrew,I have just been reading about your partnersip leases on moray estate website.
    I was shocked and had to re read it.
    The tenant does the bulk of the work, and receives no compensation at the end.
    Thats really fair isnt it?

    Reply

    • Hector
      Thats because the benefit to the benefit to the tenant is accrued through the period of the agreement. At the outset we agree with the potential tenant who will do what. We often invest in these properties as well. Depending on who invests what determines the rent. In most cases, even where we invest, the rent is the minimum SAT rent of £356pa. WE can’t charge less than that. This will be below the rental value of the property. This is set out in detail for all parties to understand.
      We use this route infrequently, but successfully, to address the small number of properties in poor condition but which make no economic sense to renovate to let and are in a sensitive location. We have a handful in total. The alternatives to the tenant in this area, as there are plots for sale, is that they buy a plot and build themselves. They then get the capital value but it’s more expensive for them initially because of the capital cost of the plot plus the house.
      So we offer a choice for people looking for such a project. Lower capital cost and often investment from us. If they aren’t attracted they can look elsewhere. Building the compensation, if you like, into the deal itself avoids arguments over valuation at the end of the agreement.

      Reply

      • Hector
        I forgot to mention in the event the tenant has to end the agreement early, divorce, death, disability, necessitating a move we include a compensation clause because the tenant hasn’t enjoyed the full period of discount to offset their contribution.
        No one need undertake such a arrangement unless they are very clear as to the pluses and minuses.
        If they want a plot we have some of them too.
        I should perhaps also add that we make no more (or rather lose not less) on these arrangements than we would if we did all the works ourselves but given they aren’t financially sensible for us it helps our capital go further in projects that do make a return.
        A number of partnership tenants (we have about 10) do so because they have skills that allow them to undertake the agreed works in their own time much more cheaply than we could.
        If you want me to send you some details send me an email!!

        Reply

      • Hebridean Farmer

        Reading this post confirms exactly why we need land reform. What a sad state of affairs.
        We need a more diverse ownership structure and a lowering of land prices, and then, and only then will we see an uplift in rural life in Scotland.
        “no economic sense to renovate to let and are in a sensitive location. ” Well they were thriving at one time Andrew, and can do again if the people can get back the land they once had and looked after.
        “If they aren’t attracted they can look elsewhere. Building the compensation, if you like, into the deal itself avoids arguments over valuation at the end of the agreement.”
        This statement is probably the one that demonstrates the problem, and one that can be used as an example of the inequality we are faced with in Scotland.
        Mo nàir’ ort!

        Reply

        • We would always encourage the prospective tenant to seek professional advice if they are not clear about something. Your characterisation of the situation is not correct. The occupation cost (as there’s no up front capital cost for the site and buildings and our investment in the scheme) is much lower than buying a site so it does represent an attractive proposition for some.
          The reasons the properties have struggled to find a use in the past relates to previous restrictive letting regulations which did much to damage rural housing and the reduction in need for agricultural housing for agriculture. Many estates sold these properties. We sold some but have a small number where we don’t wish to and are happy to explore all avenues to get them back to life.
          I make no apology for that.
          They are also not in areas of housing shortage. On most of our properties we have worked where it makes sense to create housing sought to do so. That includes having obtained planning permission for a new town which we are advancing ourselves. We can hardly be accused of trying to depopulate or not develop the areas we work in. But some economic sense and measurement has to be applied to decision making.

          Reply

          • This is an amazing document, real live evidence of how tenants labour and capital is transferred to the landowners bank account.
            Who said feudalism was dead?

  124. Andrew

    Who should be prosecuted ?. The first or second handler .

    Reply

  125. Yes but the minimum rent is more than a dilapidated property is worth.
    If you had any conception of fairness, you would pay the outgoing tenant the full value of his work to the estate.
    Iknow other people in similiar deals, and they are devastated at the end.
    Financially and mentally.

    Reply

  126. History of these Estates: very dodgy! plenty of land stolen but worst of all tenants improvements stolen.
    Future of these Estates: contract farming, short let, maximum rent/minimum input. cries of “oh but we provide the land”
    We are all sleep walking into rural melt down, a rural workforce which will be toothless. These large Estates need to be dismantled one by one, including the so called ‘Happy Estate’ above which the Factor has just demonstrated modern day forward thinking tenant dis-empowerment. Land TAX, and an investigation by Monopolies commission to wash them away. Ultimately bringing the value of land right down to an affordable level.

    Reply

  127. Andrew

    The word. ‘ YET ‘ infers a possibility . Suspicions are rising !!.

    Reply

  128. We keep hearing about estates that were “stolen”. Can someone give me an actual example of one and the circumstances in which it was stolen – i.e. by whom from whom.

    Reply

  129. So who lived to tell the real facts or write what really went on in the past ?. Are they the victors or the vanquished ?. You still have not answered some valid questions . Another one is – Is it right that 432 people own half of Scotland . Why are there not other countries in Europe with very few people owning large areas of land ?. There must be a valid reason .

    Reply

  130. GD, are you saying you can’t tell me the name of a single stolen estate? If nobody knows what went on in the past, why do some people so confidently assert that so much land was stolen in the past?

    Anyone else able to give an example of a stolen estate? Name of estate, from whom it was stolen, by whom and in what circumstances.

    Reply

  131. I dont think we are really talking about whole estates, just parts of, and probably quite large.
    If moray estate was largely common land as you say, obtained free of charge courtesy under duress of the common man, what possible moral claim can the earl of moray make on it now to prevent ARTB?
    The money expended on improving said commons was largely tenants anyway, so the case for ARTB is made.

    Reply

  132. Well well, an amnesty on improvements?
    whatever next?

    Reply

  133. Neil
    Here is one example .
    ” And spare nane alive called MacDonald ” .
    Thought you would have even known the song .
    For your interest from Education Scotland . The MacDonalds of Glencoe .
    The MacDonalds had been victims of ‘murder under trust’, considered even worse than normal acts of murder under Scots law. The Massacre of Glencoe was also an act of TERROR by the state against its own people. The MacDonalds were killed to scare the other Highland Clans into submission. John Dalrymple, Master of Stair, had planned the murders. The orders to kill the MacDonalds of Glencoe had been signed by King William.

    As word of the massacre spread, the Government tried to cover up what had happened. Eventually, in 1695, King William had to launch an enquiry. The Master of Stair resigned his offices and was given a Government pension. Robert Campbell of Glenlyon died in poverty a year later. No-one was ever brought to trial.
    i think the words ‘ scare the other Highland Clans into submission ‘ testifies what went on .

    Reply

    • Thanks GD, I have heard of the Masscre of Glencoe but the Macdonalds did not lose the estate in the massacre. Although they may have suffered temporary forfeiture for their part in the Jacobite Risings in the 18th century, they carried on as owners of Glencoe until about the mid 19th century.

      So can anyone else name an estate that was stolen and give details of from whom it was stolen, by whom and in what circumstances?

      Reply

  134. So is this amnesty an admission that our complaints re improvement theft are genuine after all?
    However all these promises were made in 2003, we wont be fooled again.

    Reply

    • Hector, what promises were made in 2003 and in what respect were they not kept?

      Reply

      • The lairds promised to sort out waygo compensation, but then their lawyers unpicked it.
        Rent reviews were to be based on economics, but the same lawyers unpicked that.

        Reply

        • What promises and in what respect were they unpicked? (I’m not being funny, I don’t remember that. The rent review’s different – that was a muck up by the Scottish Executive and their attempt at legislating on that was batted aside by the Land Court never mind the Supreme Court.)

          Reply

  135. amnesty on SLaE website. is this supposed to be progress? a cheap stunt to try and lure as many 91 tenants towards waygo, asap before Ag holdings legislation changes. To the inexperienced reader this may sound like some form of concession, but NO way, this is an admission of past robbery, dressed up to look like a kindly gesture. Tenants should turn a blind eye to this, the Lairds are starting to panic, they are on the ropes, lets keep the pressure on.

    Reply

    • Hector / SS
      Very gracious of you both! No tricks, not “on the ropes” but a genuine response to an issue which has been raised. As I’ve said on a number of occasions there are things that can sensibly be done to address issues which don’t require you to smash the system with all the attendant damage to the industry and opportunity.

      Reply

      • “damage to the industry and opportunity” do not sit together with any desire for Estate reform. Maybe in your 40,000 acres you will manage to scaremonger, but you wont manage it across the rest of Scotland.
        And as i have said on a number of occasions there are many things that can be sensibly done to permanently fix the problem of Rural Land Monopolies. Before these Massive Estates do any further damage to our Agricultural industry and rural communities.

        Reply

        • SS
          But most farm tenants aren’t on “massive” estates. A big number of the 432 won’t have many tenants at all because of what the land is. So creating a polarised impression of big v small may be great politics but it’s some way off the reality.

          Reply

          • you are polarising the debate by assuming the only intentions or solutions are ARTB. My last post is a vision for a ‘Fairer’ distribution of the ownership of land as a remedy for rural depopulation and dis empowerment. But obviously this blog or should i say land reform has highlighted the fact that The Landlord class and their henchmen are obsessed with ARTB and they don’t give a jot about anything else. True colours coming out now.

          • SS
            To be fair ARTB is a subject you and others do tend to bring up. I am happy to explore though other ideas for improving the outlook for rural Scotland – though its very healthy in parts – which focus on outcomes of which ownership needn’t be an obsession. Some of these ideas may well have major consequences for estates such as community engagement and community involvement in land use planning. That I think would improve dialogue, empower communities and cause a real focus to be put on the use of all assets. I would hope that could encourage (which I think is always more effective than force) owners and users of rural property to really think about whether they are using to the optimum effect. Communities should be involved in influence what “optimum effect” means in an area and I would also hope understand when constraints prevent this. It isn’t always the owners fault. As an example, and to go back to some of our partnership properties, they were never connected to the grid. We’ve costed connecting two properties. £150,000 before you even renovate. So you then need to find people happy to live off grid. Not impossible but these are constraints.
            Any ideas?

        • Could you name some of these things SS? (I mean something other than ARTB.)

          Reply

  136. Neil

    Who occupied Glencoe after the massacre ?.

    Reply

  137. Andrew , The only people who are “smashing the industry and opportunity ” are SLE. They are sitting on land everywhere and stifling investment.
    ARTB will release the choking grip of the lairds on scottish farming enterprise.
    Real opportunities will abound for young farmers once the lairds are put in a museum, not the rent racked charade of short term tenancies held out presently.

    Reply

  138. Neil

    The day after the massacre ?.

    Reply

  139. Neil

    My point is that MacDonalds were chased from their land ( form of theft ) with the circumstances being a massacre . This answers your previous question . Fortunately not all MacDonalds were put to the sword so some lived to tell of the atrocity .

    Reply

  140. GD, Is that the best you can do?

    We keep getting told that ARTB is justified by the fact that the lairds stole the land in the first place but when you ask for an actual example of this, all you get is:-

    Glencoe on the day after the masscre.

    Which apart from anything else totally overlooks the fact that the people who perpetrated the massacre (Campbells of Glenlyon, I think but don’t quote me on that) didn’t actually steal the estate because the Macdonalds remained in possession of it for another 150 years or so!

    So can I repeat the question with added clarity. Can anybody name an estate which was stolen from its previous owner so as to remain permanently with the “thief”.

    Perhaps to give the question focus we could concentrate on the subsequent history of the Macdonald of Glencoe estate as it existed on the day before the massacre. (But don’t be constrained by that – I would be interested in any other examples from all over the rest of Scotland and at any time in history.)

    Reply

  141. Neil

    ” aw to the sword , these words underlined and spare nane alive called MacDonald ”

    If the entire MacDonald clan was massacred that night , who would have been able to account for what happened ? I am certain that the aggressors would have a watertight alibi saying it wisnae me , it was him ower ther .
    I stand by what I say that fear of life and limb played a major part in land ownership going well back into the history of Scotland . As I say history of this type is usually ‘ written ‘ by the victors not the vanquished . Fortunately some MacDonalds escaped certain death at Glencoe to tell what did happen . Is might right ?.

    Reply

    • I’m not defending the Massacre of Glencoe, GD but what I am saying is that, although they lost their lives, they did not (surprisingly perhaps) lose their lands.

      For all the generalisations about theft, still nobody able to name an actual example …

      Reply

  142. Am I correct in believing that a few centuries ago a deceitful bunch of lords and their ilk drew up a secret list of lands that they wished to have ownership of. If nobody contested that list within 6 months then the land would become theirs. The list was kept secret in parliament so that the indigenous folk of the land knew nothing of it.
    Pardon my memory, I’ll need to go and check Andy’s book for factual accuracy, but I think I have the gist of it.

    Reply

  143. Neil

    Do you think that Glencoe was mass murder ?. Do you not wonder why not one person was tried in court for this outrage ?. Was might right ?. Maybe the land being offered back to the MacDonalds was a gesture of a small right to correct a very big wrong . Looks to me that the law of the land was not working properly then . I wonder why ?. At least some of the family lived to tell what did actually happen .

    Reply

  144. Neil

    Because it is a known fact that whoever ‘ owns ‘ the land ‘governs ‘ who lives on the land . That is why large areas of land were handed to leaders of men who fought for a cause under a flag . If you were not in agreement with whoever governed the land you either walked or were ‘ pushed ‘ .Remember , landlords ran the country at one time with their vested interests at heart .

    Reply

  145. Stolen land all over Scotland, but equally as bad are the stolen assets and improvements. These improvements continue to be stolen every three years with rental increases, based on the verbal side of a rent demand. (don’t bother wasting any time by saying the law protects. IT DOESN’T. factors will just deny it)
    What about the farms that have ‘disappeared’ on chatting with the older men they will talk of farms which have just been allowed to blend into the hill land, now covered in bracken, cottages ruined. Four such farms on the estate i am on, a disgrace. So when landlords play the sympathy card to new entrants, it is all fake.
    Great letters in SF today, highlighting the urgent need to scrap the tenancy system entirely. Break up the Estates and then start again. Tenants and owner occupiers now need to talk with new entrants and for us all to explain to each other the way forward, put this to the government and press for change. Now is our chance to EXTERMINATE the estate. Nae Lairds Required.

    Reply

    • Can you explain in a bit more detail (or give an example) what you mean by improvements being stolen every three years with rent increases based on the (deniable) verbal side of a rent demand? Also, what does your estate use the disappeared farms for?

      (Please note, I’m not denying what you’re saying, SS, I’m trying to understand (learn) the situation you’re talking about.)

      Reply

      • my specific problem is a bit of equipment i diversified in and the factor verbally said to me that surely they(landlords) are due some rental uplift? He stated his figure and in the end got it when he/they threatened me with land court. The forceful letter i got made no mention of the detail he demanded verbally, thus circumventing the law. I have basically paid money to a millionaire who lives in another country from my wee project. NO MORE WEE PROJECTS FOR ME!
        As for the disappeared farms, they are now used as sporting ground. Pheasant pens, duck ponds, wetlands for killing wading birds and of course the best of all, environmental payments to protect wildlife which is then shot dead. These are all recognised farms with names, boundaries and old steadings. Great farms for new entrants, but better suited as a playground for a millionaire to be quite blunt.

        Reply

        • That’s interesting. Thanks.

          Reply

          • SS
            To follow my thread above if the community had a more substantial role in land use decision making (I mean really local plan policies) and it was done by allowing supported communities to draw up the plan the owner of those properties would have to become more explicit about what their management strategy was to justify it as opposed to one prepared during a community planning exercise. You might not wish communities to influence all land use activity (farming for instance) but they could perhaps have much more input into setting land use priorities for an area.
            To use a practical example to explain. Under the localism act in E & W there are neighbourhood plans as a ground floor of the development plan. These are not prepared by the LA but by a neighbourhood planning group – basically local citizens. With support they produce the plan. Landowners, if they want to influence what’s going to be zoned or not on their land have to engage in the debate or they lose control over decisions. I’ve been involved in one and it can be very effective at bringing people together. I think it could help a great deal up here.
            As for your rent on the face of your facts the approach of the agent seems wrong. You shouldn’t have to accept that. Genuine offer – raise it with us and we’ll see what we can do. Or raise it with STFA and let them bring it to us. It won’t go any further and it’s not a ruse to find out who you are but to try and assist.

  146. I have a plan for another amnesty.
    Let the landlords come forward with all of their receipts and accounts for the buildings , houses and drainage on their farms.
    Anything without a valid receipt will be assumed to be a tenants improvement, and valued at full replacement cost.
    Then we will find out who really made the farms.

    Reply

  147. CURRENT SCOTTISH SITUATION:
    Landlords are positioning themselves to scoop up ‘basic area payments’ based on 2015 occupation of land. This requires termination of tenant farmers. In their place will come nation wide ‘contract farming’ this comes in various disguises, most popular being ‘only way to get young folk into farming’. BUT, and this is where they think they are being clever, this massive shift in Scottish farming culture is being blamed on the very talk of ARTB. A clever tactic to gain maximum subsidies while at the same time derail land reform.
    Factors/SLAE, i have now clicked your style, your posts are of the assumption that they are being read by Government figures prominent in land reform. The difference between real content, from real people and the contrived salaried plastic response will be just too obvious.

    Reply

    • SS,

      Really? How can they claim subsidies if they are not an active farmer already? Please explain?

      Reply

      • Slurry Stirrer

        SFP does not require activity. basic area payments rules are yet to be decided, but there is going to an area payment based on ground you put a claim in for. And it is this ground which the Estates own and are taking back from tenants which they are positioning themselves for the possibility of grabbing subsidies. All within their rights they own the ground, that is the system we have in this country. Factors are advising landlords to do this, and at the same time pretending that they cant let ground for fear of ARTB.

        Reply

    • SS
      Any evidence of this? You can only end a lease if you have the ability to do so – ie at the end of its term. So, a grazing licence could not be renewed I accept, or a limited term tenancy IF now is the end of it’s terms. All other leases carry on. So it seems likely that the vast majority – and I mean vast majority of leases will carry on regardless. And as Tom Chetwynd points out to claim its likely you’ll need to be an existing farmer.
      I’m not sure senior government figures will be reading this – certainly not on a Friday night – but even if they are am I not permitted a view? Am i not a real person? I’m not clear why my view is any less valid than yours. We’re both special interests in this debate – ie both personally affected – and our views should be treated as such. But neither is any less valid. My views are no less plastic than the carefully crafted political message which is promoted by those favouring reform. We all know there’s politics afoot here but lets not insult each other by suggesting any one side is more culpable than the other.
      Any observations on my suggestion for community planning. It strikes me as having potentially far reaching benefits picking up, as it does, all land not just that under tenancy which is what your favoured ARTB cannot do. ARTB does nothing to optimise land use on land not in a tenancy – in fact it may well not change land use in a tenancy either. So my aunt sally for discussion could have much wider potential benefits.

      Reply

      • Slurry Stirrer

        your off on one again Andrew, destroy the tenants arguments. I like it when we hear from Factors etc, i just want to expose your tactics, SLAE’s tactics, destroy the tenants offerings. Keep away from the Lairds side of the argument! Can you answer me this Andrew do SLAE discuss your participation on this site? where have all the rest gone?
        Please don’t insult me by offering to look into my situation regarding rent review. I know exactly what would happen. I am suffering from a two diseases, ‘Landlordisim’ and ‘Factoritis’ and the last thing i need are some pills offered from a land agent, i require corrective surgery to rid me of these two horrible conditions once and for all!
        Come on Andrew lets explain exactly whats happening on the ground so the readers can see exactly whats going on.

        Reply

        • Andrew Howard

          SS
          Its not about destroying the tenants arguments as you put it rather challenging both your view of the world and what benefits or otherwise might accrue from your proposition. I have every right to do so. I do so not because I’m told to I do it because I think your description of the let sector is distorted (perhaps by your own experience I accept) and because I think your ARTB proposal will have a net detriment to the sector. Of course we disagree about that but my view is no more or less a tactic than yours.

          Reply

      • I know of one estate where 2000 acres has been cleared of grazing tenants this year.
        They are allowed on on some of the land, but the landlord is making the sfp claim.

        Reply

  148. Andrew
    By the looks of things you do not like history . If you were an MP in 1946 would you have voted for lifetime security of tenure to all farmers in Scotland . Remember that some of our leading farmers today managed to buy their farm and have prospered . If lifetime security was not offered initially , maybe farming today would be a lot worse off .

    Reply

    • Wendy,MP s also voted for freedom of assignation in 1946, and economic rent.
      The tories overturned that in 1958, ending assignation and bringing in open market rent.
      Very disappointed with bbc last night on ww1.
      Didnt hardly mention the near famine in britain , or landlords cause of it.
      Didnt mention the great social reforms which sprung from the war, like rent control and mortgages for the common man.

      Reply

    • Andrew Howard

      Wendy
      Well thats a bit difficult to say because none of us were there to experience the sense of what did, or did not need to be done. You’re also asking me to answer a question with the effect of hindsight, numerous changes of legislation since etc. Based on the conditions of the time I may well have voted for greater security if the evidence was that that would have a material impact on food production. The important point now is that we are not just out of a devastating war, food shortage is not an issue and the industry is very different in many respects. So whilst understanding the genesis of current policy is important and interesting you certainly can’t assume what was right then is right now.
      As it happens some of the most successful businesses in this area are founded on let holdings. As I’ve said before on this blog the qualities of the individual should not be overlooked. Of course they need opportunity to thrive and build their businesses and it is that flexibility we are at risk of losing through ARTB.

      Reply

  149. Andrew, After ARTB, there may be a place for community planning to sort out those vast estates already untenanted and unfarmed.
    I think the scottish affairs committee could be persuaded to abolish capital gains tax for sales of farms to sitting tenants at a 50% discount less the improvements.
    Given that the next government in westminster will probably be labour, that could happen, but then a tax cutting plan like that could appeal to david cameron.
    There wil be no net loss to the treasury, as there would be no sales anyway under current rules.

    Reply

  150. Hector

    Landlords have always boasted about the value of land and moaned along with their factors about how little return the sitting farm tenant is paying in rent for a farm . Assuming that with a secure tenant occupying the farm the value of the farm to the landlord is 60% . Then with your tax break to the landlord he /she gets the full value (. 60% minus. other adjustments for tenant improvements ) of what the farm is worth and the farm tenant can buy his/her farm . It will be a win / win situation . The landlord can then invest the money in what is thought to give a better return of capital . The farmer cannot flip the farm for a set number of years . What is wrong with that ?.

    Reply

  151. Wendy

    Best idea I have heard yet !!.

    Reply

    • Andrew Howard

      Why do you all believe that a bit of tax relief is whats needed to get landowners to drop their objection to ARTB. Many estates are diverse integrated businesses of which farmland, including let holdings form a part. Starting to selectively unpick these estates against their will – ie in a way the estate can’t control – will then have consequential impacts on other ventures.
      You also seem to assume that landowners / estate owners have some sort of dispassionate relationship with the property they own which is somehow less than the passion for the land of the occupier. The attachments might be different but that doesn’t make them any less genuine.
      I realise that it fits the reform narrative very nicely to portray things in this light – much the better to get the politicians sympathy – but it’s often not fair and certainly excessively simplistic.
      Just thinking about tax I imagine that a purchasing tenant if they sold a few years later would claim roll over relief for CGT or if they passed it on 100% IHT relief via APR or BPR. Will you be making representations to the SAC that these tax reliefs, so often incorrectly associated with estates, should be abolished or will the new owners do what all rational people do which is use what reliefs are available – after all thats why politicians created them in the first place.

      Reply

  152. A lot of landlords dont even know where their farms are, never mind set foot on them.
    In 30 yrs of farming i have never seen a laird out and about on the land.
    Tax is the way to fix this, as tax is causing the problem, and SAC has the power to do it now..

    Just think, all that tax free cash pumped into estates who sell land to tenants, oodles of cash for more yachts in the cayman islands and redundancy packages for factors.

    Far better than tax incentives to let land and perpetuate the evil system.

    Reply

    • Very true Hector as a tenant of over 40 years standing I have never met my current landlord.

      Reply

    • Andrew Howard

      Never Hector. That seems a little unlikely. I think I gleaned from earlier posts you might live in East Lothian. Plenty of active resident owners of all sizes in that area. Are you suggesting they stay in all day?

      Reply

      • East Lothian, ? i wish.
        You are at least two counties out.
        I have never once encountered a laird on any land i have rented.

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  153. Slurry Stirrer

    Land reform, will, be against the will of theses Estates, that does not matter because hopefully nobody will be going cap in hand to them anymore because they no longer exist. ‘Agriculture’, that is the key word, as Alastair Macintosh says ‘culture of the land’ the best for the land and the people working it. That is essentially the key objective of land reform. What should not be driving it, and the factors wont like this, are tenancy issues. A tenancy system under proper land reform should be scrapped. Estates should be completely broken up, why? because agriculture has nothing to do with profiteering from the working of land by others. Landlordisim, land banking, land purchase for investment are all alien to Agriculture. So lets do what is best for ‘agriculture’ and strip away the unnecessary elements.

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    • Does that not all rather depend on how you define “agriculture”?

      If it means “the maximum number of people living in the country with a lot of them making at least a part of their income by keeping animals and/or growing plants”, then that’s one thing but if it means “the production of the maximum amount of food from the land” then that’s another which points in the direction of large landholdings rented to Big Ag to operate by robots managed by one bloke at a huge computer console.

      What with the BILLIONS of southern and eastern Asians aspiring to a lifestyle as comfortable as ours in Western Europe, we may not have the luxury of choosing between the two scenarios for much longer.

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      • Wrong neil.
        The maximum food production does not come from big units, it comes from small units.
        Look at china, the biggest wheat producer in the world, where incidentally, landlords abolished long ago.

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        • I would concur, all to do with timeliness of operations,you can”t alter the season”s to suit a large operation trying to cover too much with two little.

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          • Interesting. I defer to you guys’ superior knowledge of farming. I’ve been reading lots of stuff in the Economist saying how farming’s got to become more efficient to produce enough food or we’re all stuffed – not enough water never mind land. Countries like Japan trying to consolidate tiny holdings to improve productivity. Huge farming company in Argentina doesn’t own a single acre because doesn’t want to divert its capital. It’s townies like me reading this stuff you’ve got to persuade. No point in mithering on about the Massacre of Glencoe. Just saying!

        • Hi Neil

          I going to quote you my economics lecturer from college in the seventies to give you an example of how management especially modern day farm management with its bias towards cost saving gets into trouble.
          He told us at the time that there was 5 times the combine capacity that in theory was needed to secure the harvest in Scotland on the ground .
          This was needed as an insurance to combat the usual threat of of bad weather as very rarely did you get 6 weeks of perfect weather at harvest time in Scotland.
          On that basis when he examined a farms accounts and saw two combines on a moderate acreage he allocated the first combine to machinery costs and the second one to insurance costs against bad weather therefore making the most of any dry spells.

          Today many accountant led buisnesses look at the brochures for combines take their ability to cut a certain acreage in 6 weeks at face value and forget about delays due to bad weather ( maybe only 6 dry days in 6 weeks in a bad year) thus ensuring that some of the crop gets overripe and ends up on the ground in windy weather. Quite often today large agri buisnesses accept these not insignificant losses as being part of their drive to keep machinery costs down. Some are better at having enough equipment in place but you need a very competent farm manager to take on the might of an accountant bent on keeping costs down

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          • These large operations now prevalent in arable areas are on a treadmill which makes them poor and lairds rich.
            Once a farmer has expanded onto short lease rented land, he must gear up to cover the ground, so he buys a big tractor, big combine etc.
            Payments on these items will run for 5 to 10 years.
            At yr 3, factor demands 50% extra rent or he will find someone else.
            Farmer knows he has 3 or more years of payments left, so he has to agree the rent rise as the lesser of 2 evils, hoping something might turn up.
            Landlord now receives way more than land worth, tenant gradually runs out of cash.
            Its not a new story.

        • And one of the biggest importers, polluters etc and with an agricultural class usually pretty keen to get a job in an urban area because of the grinding poverty of life in rural China.

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  154. The bbc website has a different history of the earl of moray.

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  155. I think Andrew is in cloud cuckoo land when on one side he is wanting new entrants and on the other he is wanting farm businesses to expand . How is this ever going to be accomplished when there seems to be no land available for new entrants far less Andrew’s preferred option of the big farmers getting bigger to get higher rents . To counter this very valid comment I am sure that ARTB will be rolled out once again . Same old story . Over 10 years on and still no more acres to let . In fact a lot less .

    As for estate management , there is none by the estate . Farm tenants do all work dealing with fallen trees and fences . I suppose the landlord will take the credit for the fields getting tidied up .

    As for tax reliefs , I think that the government introduced them to protect the family farm . Estates have used this vehicle conveniently to protect their large estates . I am sure that Andrew , from what I have read recently , will have a very clear and long definition of what is an estate and what is a family farm .

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    • Andrew Howard

      Wendy
      In E & W according to CAAV figures 20% of new lets go to new entrants. The two ambitions are not contradictory.
      No, I don’t have a definition of whats an estate and whats a family farm. There are family farms that run to thousands of acres and what might be thought of as estates at a few hundred.
      The large estates probably have about 20% of farm tenancies. Meaning 80% ish are on much smaller land holdings. So despite the rousing words from SS and you all ARTB will often mean a well of tenant farmer of existing scale (they will be in the best position to purchase) buying from a modest scale owner of that farm. It suits you all to characterise this as David v Goliath. Just not that simple.

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      • Slurry Stirrer

        does not suit me or land reform one wee bit different, if you have let a farm on a 91 act then you have turned your back on working the land and preferred instead to make money from someone else improving your asset. So if the ARTB is given to a tenant who buys from an owner who only owns that one farm then is that what the government want? You also make reference to Large and small Andrew, so whats it going to be? ARTB with qualifications like: situated on a Land monopolising Estate OR is it just going to be for all 91 act tenants? come on Andrew SLAE have already turned their back on the smaller land owners, whats it going to be Large or Small?????

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        • Andrew Howard

          But hang on SS I’m sure you’ve said before that letting will flourish post ARTB between farmers. Aren’t those owners turning their back on the land and therefore not worthy of ownership?
          It’s neither realistic or desirable to create an economy where ownership of an asset has to accompany occupation or use. I’m afraid your vision just doesn’t fit with the way our economy works including the rural one. Economic pressures won’t be held back.

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          • Slurry Stirrer

            Andrew, you are misunderstanding the logic, the climate that can be created. Post Land reform there will be a genuine mosaic of owner occupiers, they can then let part of their holding or all of it. But the key difference which you have to get your head around is that ground will be let on circumstances, age, Harvest conditions, neighbor has some better ground, a letting economy which is always agreed between owner/owner or owner new start. face to face local to local. Totally polar opposite to the “Land lord” class that you wish to promote. If you need any further help with this concept read Prof Hunter or A Wightman, or alternatively visit any other country in the world and have a look around.

          • SS
            I understand the logic I’m just not so naive to buy. Farmers will, perfectly sensibly act in their best personal interests. The idea that business interests won’t drive matters is not tenable and I don’t believe experience elsewhere in Europe supports your view. But we’ve argued that one elsewhere.

      • A question for you Andrew .

        ( Ignoring those from a farming background farmers or farmers sons/daughters)

        How many brand new entrants from a non farming background wanting to farm but with some agricultural training (with their new tenancy their only source of income) has Moray Estates taken on in the last 10 years?

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        • In the last 10 yrs none. The last time we let a number of units to new entrants (though not all new to the industry) was the late 1980s. We broke up inhand land and let it because it made sense. Some of those “new entrants” thrived, some did not. We continue to support existing tenants with new leases – those who had LPs previously now all have LDTs (15-30 ys).
          No new lettings because returns would be much lower than farming it ourselves. The political backdrop of the last 10 yrs also not exactly helpful but economics a key driver.
          BUT – and this is important – in the past if it made economic sense we did create new lets and take land out of inhand. So we need to remove barriers to that happening in the future. One of those is the political uncertainty the current debate is creating.

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  156. DAVID v GOLIATH it certainly is.
    Farm tenants against the entire might of the landed establishment, who have written the land laws to suit themselves for 500 years.
    Even small estates are a lot bigger than your average tenanted farm, pretending otherwise is disingenuous.

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  157. Slurry Stirrer

    Absolutely right Hector, that’s the style, expose the rhetoric. I know Two Large Estates and the owners also both own Farms and smaller Estates. The Landed elite at its finest.

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    • On the subject of “exposing rhetoric”, then, if the landed establishment have written the land laws to suit themselves for 500 years, who wrote the following ones:-

      Registration Act 1617
      Teinds Acts 1633
      Heritable Jurisdictions Act 1747
      All the 18th & 19th cent. Entail Acts
      Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act 1883
      Crofters Holdings (Scotland) Act 1886
      Ditto 1887
      Small Landholders (Sc) Act 1911
      Feudal Casulaties (Sc) Act 1914
      Ditto and Ag Holdings Act 1931
      Agriculture Act 1948
      Ag Holdings (Sc) Act 1949
      Crofters (Sc) Act 1955
      Ditto 1961
      Conveyancing and Feudal Reform (Sc) Act 1970
      Land Tenure Reform (Sc) Act 1974
      Crofting Reform (Sc) Act 1976
      Ag Holdings Amendment (Sc) Act 1983
      Ag Holdings (Sc) Act 1991
      Abolition of Feudal Tenure (Sc) Act 2001
      Land Reform (Sc) Act 2003
      Title Conditions (Sc) Act 2003
      AH Amendment (Sc) Act 2012

      And while we’re on rhetoric busting, I note that still nobody’s managed to name a single stolen estate yet!

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