Farmers fear community ownership pans could impact farming.
Farmers have reiterated concerns the transferal of the Crown Estate to the Scottish Government must not impact food production as it presses ahead with its ’community ownership’ vision.
Scottish Ministers took control of the estate from April 1 and said its new arrangements hoped to put local communities ‘at the heart’ of any decisions.
The move came only a few years after Scottish land reform saw the devolution of powers to smaller communities.
Agricultural tenants questioned the decision and what it would mean for farmers, with NFU Scotland arguing it was vital the £98 million currently invested in the Crown Estate was retained in the industry.
NFUS president Andrew McCornick said: “Our tenants feel strongly that the estate functions well due to the size and complexity of the assets contained within the portfolio, and see this as a real opportunity to make the Crown Estate a showcase for rural Scotland.
“The tenanted farms, which have a value of £98m, comprise the largest portion of the total estate asset.
“These farms play a vital role in underpinning the rest of the portfolio, and provide much wider socioeconomic benefits to many rural communities, and many of the farming families which live on these estates have done so for generations.”
Members of the NFUS self-formed Crown Estate Tenants Working Group, made up of two tenants from each of the four rural estates, warned they did ‘not have an appetite for substantial change’ and called for the estate to remain as one entity.
The 117 secure 1991 Act tenancies on the estate make up a major portion of the secure tenanted sector in Scotland.
The Scottish Government had previously said it wanted to encourage communities to buy land to promote greater diversity in ownership and give them a ‘stronger voice’.
It came as a survey by Scottish Agricultural Arbiters and Valuers and Central Association of Agricultural Valuers found the amount of agricultural land available to let had declined by 11,331 hectares (28,000 acres) over the past year.