Farming future rests on consultation

Dorset law firm Blanchards Bailey LLP is urging those people involved in farming to have their say in the Government’s ongoing Agricultural Tenancy Consultation which could go a long way towards shaping the future of tenant farming in this country.

The consultation process, being handled by the Department for Food, Environment & Rural Affairs (Defra), is reviewing the Agricultural Holdings Act (AHA) tenancy agreements and Farm Business Tenancy agreements (FBTs).

The purpose of any reform is to ensure tenancy law allows tenants and landlords the ability to adapt to changes, access new schemes and improve productivity, accessibility and growth in the agricultural sector.

Points under review include whether current restrictions on agricultural mortgages are a barrier to landowners wishing to let land and if there is a need for additional protection against the repossession of agricultural land for farm business borrowers unable to meet finance repayments under secured loans.

Blanchards Bailey, which has a specialist agricultural department and close links to the land and farming industry, with its experienced lawyers advising rural families in the county for more than 90 years, believes it is imperative for all views to be made known.

Principal Paul Dunlop said: “Many of the provisions within the 1986 AHA are weighted in the tenants’ favour, with the Agricultural Tenancies Act 1995 attempting to redress the balance.

“However, the agricultural sector has been subject to a considerable amount of change and innovation and neither landlords nor tenants should find themselves penalised in a difficult sector because of outdated legislation.

“As we move away from the Common Agricultural Policy the government will replace it with a policy framework, which must be fit for the future.

“I see our farming clients who own and run their farms bringing in younger generations, being able to diversify, deal with change quicker and having greater access to grants and loans.

“Driven by the out of date statutory restrictions, I have not seen such change in tenanted farms and see an ageing farm profile and limited opportunities for entrepreneurs to drive new growth.”

Blanchards Bailey, whose Agriculture and Estates team has been recognised by The Legal 500 for the last four years, is an 80-strong firm based in the heart of rural Dorset, with offices in Blandford, Poundbury, Shaftesbury and Weymouth.

Paul added: “Defra is hoping that its comprehensive consultation involving as many different voices as possible will lead to a better environment for sustainable productivity improvements along with fair legal protection for both tenants and landlords.

“At Blanchards Bailey we know just how challenging running a farming or rural business can be and we understand the people, relationships and issues that affect agriculture today.

“I would urge as many or our clients as possible to contribute to this call for evidence – the deadline is fast approaching – and we are always here to advise anyone needing help with a submission or wishing to discuss concerns.”

The Blanchards Bailey team advises on all aspects of agricultural and business law, from land development and renewable energy, to partnerships, disputes and commercial contracts.

The consultation period closes at midnight on July 2. Written responses can be emailed to or by visiting the Defra website. 

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