Councils urged to show commitment to younger farmers
"Many young farmers and new entrants have limited access to land, compounded by prohibitive land prices and rental values" said Darren Williams, of Garthbrengy, Breconshire who wrote to local authorities.
However, the Farmers' Union of Wales fears a number of local authorities are consolidating and disposing of these holdings or reducing the length of tenancy agreements to the extent that investment in holdings by tenants becomes unviable.
The new committee is concerned that councils are struggling to move older tenants on from the medium/larger sized holdings preventing the younger generation accessing them. This results in stagnation within the industry and a less dynamic local rural economy.
"It is understandable why tenants, who have been farmers all their lives, would not want to abandon the farming industry altogether.
"It is, therefore, suggested that councils should consider offering the older generation tenant one of the smaller CCHs as a retirement/smallholding opportunity, releasing the larger holdings for a new generation of tenants in order to facilitate their entry into the industry," Mr Williams stated.
His letter also mentioned that some local authorities are no longer employing an in-house land agent. "This can often result in an expensive service that delivers little for both the tenant and landlord.
"The union asks that neighbouring councils group together and employ a full time agent specifically to deal with CCHs and believes this would represent better delivery for local authorities, tenants and the public purse."
Members of the new committee are also concerned that councils no longer consider CCHs as a service to their county despite the 1970 Agriculture Act specifying that local authorities should "aim to provide opportunities for persons to be farmers on their own account by letting holdings to them”.
"We are constantly reminded of the need to encourage the youngest and brightest talent into agriculture and, for many, CCHs remain one of the only entry routes in the industry," Mr Williams stated. "CCHs must therefore be kept as a legacy for future generations."
The committee expressed further concern that if CCHs are no longer intended as "holdings for life" then councils have a duty to assist tenants to move on to larger holdings.
"If the CCH system works as it should, then these farms should hold the prospective tenants for the private sector landlords," Williams added.
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