Farm rents – Industry calls for reduction as farmers feel the pinch

By Rob Blair, ARA specialist

Landowners and agricultural landlords have been asked to reduce rents to help farmers, who are struggling with increased fuel costs, as well as feed and fertiliser price increases.

With many farmers struggling with cash flow due to various pressures, the Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) is calling on landlords to help the industry.

According to figures from earlier this month, red diesel prices have risen to 59.91 pence per litre (ppl) from 59.2ppl. This is a significant increase from last year’s price of 40.9ppl.

On top of this, the cost of livestock feed is also up, with imported maize distillers trading at £282 per tonne and home-produced rapeseed meal at £262 per tonne.

TFA national vice-chairman Robert Martin said: “In the current circumstances, it should be no surprise to agricultural landlords that there will need to be downward pressure on the level of rents.

“Both sides (landlords and tenants) can ill afford having to spend considerable amounts of money employing professional advisers to argue the case.

“It’s time for landlords and tenants to get around the table to discuss and agree sensible levels of rent.’’

The call comes as many farm rent reviews get underway. The constraints of many famers’ budgets mean that they may find it hard to meet current rental payments, let alone any increases instigated by landlords.

As well as calling for rent reductions, the TFA has said that retailers and the food and drink industry need to absorb their “fair share’’ of the higher input costs by offering a fairer price to farmers.

Unfortunately, many in this sector are already dealing with higher costs for logistics and workers, as well as other products, due to the challenges posed by the pandemic and Brexit.

“Farmers are already facing massive changes in terms of public policy and they must not be left having to accept higher costs and lower prices,” Mr Martin added.