Getting onto the tenancy ladder, tips from an agricultural policy adviser for the Tenant Farmers Association.
Farmer’s daughter Gemma Bumford is an agricultural policy adviser for the Tenant Farmers Association and lives in Wiltshire with her farming partner.
She shares her top tips in getting onto the tenancy ladder.
To become a tenant farmer you need to possess the three ‘P’ qualities – patience, perseverance and preparation.
Before you take on your first tenancy the main way you have to prove to a landlord you are dedicated to the industry is to provide evidence of training, qualifications and experience.
If you do not have a past landlord who the prospective landlord can take references from, then this will be the area that the new landlord will focus on.
The more training and qualifications you can achieve which are relevant to managing a farm business, the better.
If you have not had a great deal of hands-on experience, volunteer to help a local farmer or get a job in agriculture, otherwise it is highly unlikely you will be considered.
Keep your eyes open for new opportunities - most land available to let will go into national press publications such as Farmers Guardian or the local press.
Getting to know local agents and businesses that deal with both landlords and tenants is essential.
In rural practice, everyone knows each other, so if you can prove you are young, enthusiastic and reliable, word will spread.
The agricultural show season has begun and provides the perfect opportunity for you to go and meet some land agents on their show stands.
If you are not too keen on making a direct or personal approach, then why not draft a letter to send to local agents asking if you can be considered for land that comes available to let, enclosing details about you and perhaps a CV.
When you eventually want to apply for a tenancy, creating a business plan and completing formal tender documents is not easy. Take time to familiarise yourself with the letting terms and take advice if you need it.
Bear in mind you will be expected to provide references from professionals, such as your bank manager or accountant, so plan your finances carefully.
The NFYFC organises national farm tenancy training workshops, providing an insight into the tenant’s perspective.
A theoretical tenancy is available and members put together the tender with specialist guidance.
Why not work with a friend and take part in the annual NFYFC Farm Business Development competition.
Members work in pairs and are given a case study with a real farm to go and visit, with detailed letting particulars that are very similar to particulars you would be given in a real life scenario.
This exercise is one of the best ways of practising applying and developing your business skills, as well as securing potential contacts for the future.