The National Trust has defended keeping its farm advisors on furlough at a pivotal time for the agriculture sector.
The charity was responding to disquiet among its tenants, who have raised concerns about the absence of advisors while farmers attempt to grapple with significant future changes to policy and trading arrangements.
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the National Trust estimates it will lose up to £200m this year, and a redundancy plan has put 1,200 jobs at risk.
The redundancy package is currently being consulted on, and the charity would not confirm whether or not any of the 14 farm advisors are set to lose their jobs.
The Tenant Farmers’ Association (TFA) has also warned tenants will be concerned about what happens to rural estate surveyors who deal with tenancy issues on a day-to-day basis.
TFA chief executive George Dunn said: “We do understand the strictures under which the National Trust is having to operate given the extent to which it has seen its normal operations torpedoed by the Covid-19 restrictions.
“However, farm tenants operate under tenancy agreements which provide them with both opportunities and obligation, and in meeting their obligations, they expect their landlord to meet theirs too.
“There have certainly been cases where the National Trust has been unable to fully comply with its obligations while insisting tenants comply with theirs, which understandably leads to frustration.”
A National Trust spokesperson said: “The Government [furlough] scheme ends in October, when we will be welcoming back members of staff who have been furloughed for the past few months.
“We will continue to have our estate managers covering our properties, who will remain the key link to our tenants concerning tenancy and business issues.”