New entrants hoping to secure a tenancy are encouraged by experts to gain experience, build their capital, and persevere in a new podcast recorded for The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC).
The podcast, which was supported by Defra and recorded by rural affairs podcaster and journalist Ben Eagle, featured a panel of industry experts reviewing the case of new entrant Chris Lake.
Chris, a member of Comberton YFC in Cambridgeshire and a farm consultant, shares his ambition to secure a tenancy, despite not being from a farming background.
After experiencing two tenancy rejections and juggling work with the challenge of renting land in three different counties to graze his Cambridgeshire sheep, Chris sought advice for his future goal of securing a tenancy.
Help was on hand from a knowledgeable panel, which included George Dunn, Chief Executive of the Tenant Farmers Association, Martin Lines, Cambridgeshire farmer and CEO of the Nature Friendly Farming Network and Cameron Hughes from the Country Land and Business Association.
George Dunn, who praised Chris for the actions he had taken so far, advised him to keep going.
“Keep on getting that experience, developing your capital, developing your track record and pushing at whatever doors of opportunity come your way. Take the downs with the ups. Understand how you can improve going forward,” he said.
While he was impressed with Chris’ eagerness, George did caution new entrants not to be so quick to chase after securing their own farm but to gain experience first. He compared it to graduate doctors and lawyers who would spend years in practice before setting up their own businesses.
“I am concerned about the extent of new entrants who talk about having to be farmers on their account,” said George. “Not everything will come to you today but persevere, look for those opportunities, gain that experience, develop your capital and I’m sure you’ll shine.”
Only around 11% of all new tenancies are offered to people who might be considered new entrants, according to data from the Central Association for Agricultural Valuers’ (CAAV) 2022 survey, out of approximately 1,000 new tenancies on the market last year.
Cameron Hughes highlighted the risk for landlords taking on a new entrant as a tenant, especially in a highly competitive environment.
Cameron said: “Land is a scarce resource. There are multitudes of individuals interested in taking on that land. That means you really do have to shine and show your worth.”
Cameron advised new entrants applying for tenancies to:
“You are going to get some knock backs, but you shouldn’t make those knock backs cause to give up the journey,” said Cameron.
The push towards regenerative agricultural practices should also be seen as an opportunity for new entrants to establish their career in the sector, said Martin Lines. Many people leaving university or the older generation of farmers had not received training on regenerative practices.
“I do think that is a huge opportunity for new entrants and new people to immerse themselves in that world of regenerative farming practices. They can be the leading voice, supporting an owner/occupier or someone else in delivering and [this could] become an opportunity in getting a tenancy by being that supportive employee or staff member,” said Martin.
The podcast, which is around 30 minutes, includes information about Defra policies, accessing professional advice, training and the role of landlords.