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Landlords and Government must back farmers in 2016

Rural chiefs said 2016 will be a critical year for the farming industry


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Recovery could be some time off, farm leaders said
Recovery could be some time off, farm leaders said

Realism from landlords and appropriate Government support will be crucial for the farming community in 2016.

 

Experts said 2015 was a ‘unique’ year due to the fact each sector took a hit in some way.

 

The situation has led agriculture chiefs to call for a range of new measures to help ailing businesses, including greater Government support, new pricing models and a greater focus on contracts for dairy, extending tax relief and a reduction in farm rents to account for diminishing farm incomes.

 

Tenant Farmers Association national chairman Stephen Wyrill said with little prospect of price improvement in the immediate future, the farming community would be forced to tighten its belt ‘and it is only right that landlords should share that burden too’.

 

“Despite the significant downturn in returns across all sectors we have seen very little response, so far, in terms of farm rents falling,” said Mr Wyrill.

 

"If current economic conditions within agriculture prevail then we must see many more reductions in 2016.”

 

Both Savills and Strutt and Parker said this uncertainty in the agricultural market brought about by low commodity prices was one of the main factors behind the expected drop in land prices next year.

 

While this could bring about opportunities for new entrants desperate to get a foot on the ladder, it has highlighted dampening demand from both farmers and investors.

 

NFU president Meurig Raymond agreed the industry, across the board, had experienced a ‘very difficult cashflow crisis’ and it was therefore crucial the industry built in more resilience to enable farmers to stay profitable in a volatile market.

 

“It has been a challenging year given the levels of volatility we have seen, both in markets and weather, and I know it has knocked the confidence of many farmers,” he said.

 

“Safeguarding farm businesses from the destructive effects of volatility is essential.

 

“We need action from Government, in the EU and domestically, and all parts of the supply chain to enable a competitive, productive and profitable farming industry to supply this country with a safe, secure, affordable supply of British food.”

 

Mr Raymond’s comments were echoed by NFU Scotland president Allan Bowie who said it was disappointing some retailers were still shunning British produce despite the joint efforts of all farming unions to address issues within the supply chain.

 

In addition, he said the Scottish Government’s failure to address gold-plated rules around the Common Agricultural Policy greening measures could be potentially ‘damaging’ to Scottish food production.

 

Mr Bowie added: "Europe rightly views Scotland as one of the greenest countries so it is astonishing our own Government continues to heap more requirements on our farmers."


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