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Calls for Roadmap on Tenant/Landlord Relationship

President also calls for Animal Health body to be considered  

NFU Scotland President Nigel Miller has used his presidential address at the Union’s AGM in St Andrews today (Monday, 13 February) to call for those parties representing landlord and tenant interests to work on a roadmap to drive change in the sector.

The Union is concerned that the number of breakdowns occurring between a tenant and their landlord is on the rise and it is in the interests of all parties and those who see their future in farming that this is addressed.

Speaking in St Andrews, Mr Miller said:

“Views on landlord/tenant relationships have always attracted polarised views – that is always likely to be the case – but we believe the current system requires improvement and we hope other interested parties will agree and work towards a joint industry position, even though that may require compromise from some.

“Doing nothing is not an option for all of us.  There are successful landlord/tenant arrangements working well in Scotland.  However, simply through discussions I have had with our membership, I believe the number of breakdowns between tenants and their landlords are on the rise. 

“It is in the interests of landlords, tenants and Scottish agriculture in general that we have a thriving let land market and it is time for all interested parties to consider a roadmap to deliver this.  This is essential for those currently involved in farming today.  However, equally importantly, access to land remains a key vehicle for those who are the future of our industry.

“We are all well aware of where the problems arise – investment, rent reviews, waygo – all of which can lead to lengthy and costly proceedings to resolve.

“For consideration within the roadmap could be an improved arbitration procedure supported by agreed industry protocols for dealing with agricultural investment and the split of diversification income. We would also support a code of practice for land agents around issues such as the rent review process and investments in holdings and its implications at waygo.

“It is in both the interests of landlords and tenants that a central part of any new roadmap looks to deliver a cost effective fast track to dispute resolution.   The recent Moonzie case simply highlights that the industry is crying out for a speedier route to resolving cases and a fixed fee that clearly caps the cost for those involved.

“The Land Court will remain as the body for defining points of law but we need to establish if the expertise of the Land Court could provide the basis for a quicker dispute resolution process or whether a new body might deliver an improved service around arbitration and disputes.

“As an industry we also need to be disciplined and set ourselves reasonable timelines to achieve some of these improvement so that we can break away from the present debate which is driving deeper divisions within the sector.  I have set myself the challenge of trying to secure some significant progress in this area and hope when I stand on this platform in a year’s time there will be some positive developments to report.”

Mr Miller then went on to also call for a fresh look at animal health and welfare provisions in Scotland and asked whether the time was right for a new body to take control.

Mr Miller said:

“The stakeholder approach adopted in Scotland has been very successful in helping us tackle often thorny animal health and welfare issues in a balanced and pragmatic manner – FMD in 2007; Bluetongue at the same time, a new sheep scab order, BVD eradication plans. However, do we have where-with-all to do much more than we are already doing with our limited resources?

“The arrival of Schmallenberg virus on these shores helps focus the mind on the current level of resources we need to properly deal with such a threat.  This is a vector born virus for which the diagnostics are poor and there is no available vaccine.  Across five member states, hundreds of farms, including 29 to date in South East England, are suffering still births and deformities in calves and lambs and we are yet to identify how readily the virus may over winter.

“If we were to look at the other challenges coming at us – New EU Animal health laws, sheep and cattle EID, cattle psoroptes, TSE roadmap, food chain information, antimicrobials.  Is our current stakeholder approach robust enough to deal with these?

“Having finally seen the budget for animal health and welfare matters devolved, we now have the opportunity to consider if we need a new animal health and welfare body for Scotland to strengthen policymaking and delivery.  This is a model that has been successfully taken up in the Republic of Ireland.  A dedicated government team is vital to drive through change, ensure systems are compliant with Europe should we require funds from its animal health pot and keep Scotland ahead of the curve on animal health and welfare issues

“It remains imperative to have a professional dedicated civil service team to make sure systems are correct and targeted but that comes at a time when costs and savings are a priority for Government.  If we want to be aspirational and maintain the momentum behind animal health and welfare in Scotland then a new body to take on role of policy development may enable us to maintain progress in this area.”  

Notes to Editors

  • NFU Scotland’s AGM and Annual dinner is taking place in the Fairmont Hotel, St Andrews today (Monday, 13 February) and tomorrow (Tuesday, 14 February).

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

 

Date Published:

News Article No.: 18/12


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