National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

26 November 2009

The importance of tenant farming, and what needs to be done to secure its future, were top of the agenda at the NFU 2009 National Tenant Farmers' Conference at Chatsworth House, Derbyshire.

The conference, chaired by NFU deputy president Meurig Raymond, attracted some of the industry’s leading figures including Julian Sayers, of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, and Stephen Morgan, the out-going rural chairman of the Association of Chief Estate Surveyors.

NFYFC agriculture & rural affairs committee (ARAC) chairwoman Katherine Sealy told the conference that the NFYFC’s recent Your Future and Farming survey of members, in conjunction with Lantra, had helped to provide research into the issues facing young people as they look to enter the industry.

She said 83 per cent of those surveyed were considering a career in farming and 57 per cent aspired to become farm owners at some point in the next 15 years. Seventeen per cent of those considering a future in farming wanted to be tenant farmers.

Katherine added that retention of council farms was one of the ARAC committee’s five manifesto points, and that NFYFC was working alongside other organisations to highlight the importance of retaining these estates.

She stressed there was a need for more tenancy opportunities for new entrants, but that they had to be long enough to attract the necessary financial and business investment.

“We know from the entries to our farm business development competition that there are young entrepreneurs in the waiting, however, there must be enough available opportunities,” she said.

NFYFC in conjunction with Savills and Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) are currently rolling regional tenancy training events to help improve young farmers’ business skills.

Katherine summed up with a plea for policy makers to consider young farmers when making decisions; for landowners to think about where their future tenants might live and their social responsibilities; for viable tenancies to encourage financial and time investment; and for tenants to adopt a more business-like attitude to secure the future of farming.

Speaking after the conference, Katherine said: “Evidence from the NFYFC/Lantra survey, that the next generation of farmers are looking forward to a career and a future in agriculture, provided the conference with hope for the young farmers of the future.

“It prompted discussion about how farming and rural communities can be sustained as affordable places to live and work, emphasising the need for flexible tenancy opportunities to reflect the fact that finance is considered a major barrier to entering farming.

“The message from NFYFC to the conference was that the future of farming is going to be different but, with the training offered through the ARAC tenancy training days and through the Fresh Start Academies, young farmers are better prepared and they see opportunities rather than obstacles. The future of farming is going to be different, but it is in safe hands.”

  1. Click here to read the results of the Your Future and Farming 2009 survey





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