Coronavirus: Land estates urged to help tenants farmers

Estates such as the Duchy of Lancaster, which consists of 45,550 acres, have been warned of the 'immediate impact' Covid-19 is having on tenant farmers
Estates such as the Duchy of Lancaster, which consists of 45,550 acres, have been warned of the 'immediate impact' Covid-19 is having on tenant farmers

The NFU's vice president has written to the UK's land estates urging them to be 'understanding' towards tenants when it comes to paying rent.

Tom Bradshaw has written to groups such as the Duchy of Cornwall, Church Commissioners, Duchy of Lancaster, Crown Estate and National Trust.

The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) has already urged rural landlords to 'give respite' to tenant farmers who are experiencing difficulties as a result of Covid-19.

Mr Bradshaw's letter puts further pressure on landowning organisations, explaining how the virus is having an 'immediate impact' on some farming businesses.



He said it is particularly affecting those supplying processors heavily involved with the food service sector and with farm diversification enterprises involving leisure and tourism.

"Some of our members have told us that demand has stopped and bookings are being cancelled," Mr Bradshaw, who farms in Essex, said.



"We believe there will be farmers who are supplying a company that could very easily go into receivership."

The current crisis follows six months of incessant rainfall with storms such as Ciara and Dennis leaving land under water for many weeks.

Farmers are now desperately hoping that things will dry up so that spring drilling can take place, Mr Bradshaw said.

"However we already know that spring seed is very expensive and in short supply," he added.

“We are asking landlords to be understanding towards tenants when it comes to paying rent – consider flexible payments, rent-free holidays and in some cases, a rent reduction.

"In fact, any help landlords can give to help their tenants during these unprecedented times."

The NFU is encouraging farmers to seek guidance on how to best manage any financial impact to their business, speaking to their bank and farm advisers, to help cash flow issues in the short and medium term.