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Call for council farm tenancy help

Created on 07/02/2013 @ 12:48


The Farmers' Union of Wales has urged all Welsh county councils to show greater commitment to the next generation of farmers by actively helping them secure tenancies of local authority-owned agricultural holdings.

The FUW says it keeps the future of the Welsh farming industry at the heart of its work and last year set up a "Younger Voice for Farming Committee".

Now the committee's chairman, tenant farmer Darren Williams, of Garthbrengy, Breconshire, has written to local authorities throughout Wales and the Welsh Local Government Association stressing that county council holdings (CCHs) are a valuable and essential route into farming across Wales.

"Many young farmers and new entrants have limited access to land, compounded by prohibitive land prices and rental values. CCHs, therefore, provide an important stepping stone into the industry for the next generation," Mr Williams wrote.

However, the FUW fears a number of local authorities are consolidating and disposing of these holdings or reducing the length of tenancy agreements to the extent that investment in holdings by tenants becomes unviable.

The new committee is concerned that councils are struggling to move older tenants on from the medium/larger sized holdings preventing the younger generation accessing them. This results in stagnation within the industry and a less dynamic local rural economy.

"It is understandable why tenants, who have been farmers all their lives, would not want to abandon the farming industry altogether.

"It is, therefore, suggested that councils should consider offering the older generation tenant one of the smaller CCHs as a retirement/smallholding opportunity, releasing the larger holdings for a new generation of tenants in order to facilitate their entry into the industry," Mr Williams stated.

His letter also mentioned that some local authorities are no longer employing an in-house land agent. "This can often result in an expensive service that delivers little for both the tenant and landlord.

"The union asks that neighbouring councils group together and employ a full time agent specifically to deal with CCHs and believes this would represent better delivery for local authorities, tenants and the public purse." 

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