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“Shared vision” key to successful joint ventures

“Shared vision” key to successful joint ventures

Spreading your risk with multiple enterprises and working in partnership with key stakeholders was just some of the essential advice given by experts for successful tenancies and joint venture opportunities.

The guidance was shared in NFYFC’s new podcast episode, which is supported by Defra and focuses on helping young farmers with tenancies and career paths into agriculture.

An experienced panel, made up of George Dunn, Chief Executive of the Tenant Farmers Association (TFA), Martin Lines, a Cambridgeshire farmer and CEO of the Nature Friendly Farming Network (NFFN) and Andrew Shirley, Chief Surveyor at the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), respond to the positive case study of Jonty Brunyee, a National Trust tenant farmer in the Cotswolds.

In the podcast, Jonty shares how his landlord supported the introduction of new enterprises on his tenanted farm, including a market garden, glamping, and events. With 13 different enterprises and some off-farm income too, Jonty’s is a success story, which has been made possible because of a supportive landlord.

Take a risk

Jonty advises other landlords to "take a risk” to yield better results for all:

“You’ve got to invest in those young tenants,” said Jonty. “Share some risks and you’ll get outcomes and outputs at the end of it. It might not always be higher rent, but there will be other benefits.

“I think landlords are nervous of tenancy regulations of joint ventures and liabilities and they are not fully engaged with that deep regenerative transition and what that really means. I think there is a mindset shift needed from both parties.”

The podcast includes useful advice for new entrants and those looking for tenancies – with a ‘shared vision’ being one of the key takeaways.

During the podcast, Andrew Shirley says: “As a potential occupier of land, it’s about setting your vision, where you want to get to and then what’s the best vehicle to achieve that. It might be a partnership, it might be a joint company, it might be a tenancy it could be a contract farming agreement.

“There are lots of different opportunities out there but what you want to do is set yourself up so you can have a lasting agreement that enables you to meet all of your objectives both as a landlord and a tenant.”

Top tips for successful tenancies

  • Understand what the landlord wants to achieve from the holding and make sure it fits with your aspirations.
  • Look for a niche and negotiate when you take out a tenancy.
  • It’s always easier to work in partnership as it reduces the burden on both if you can work together.
  • Maintain some off farm income so you are not completely reliant on one income.
  • Work with what nature can give you to reduce what you need to buy in.
  • Aim for a longer tenancy agreement for security and to give you time to rest into it.

Enterprise stacking

Discussions during the podcast highlight the advantages of ‘enterprise stacking,’ which is aimed at maximising output by running several enterprises alongside each other.

“Enterprise stacking is seeking the synergies and then you can stack them,” says Jonty who gives the example of growing forestry that won’t see a return for 20 years but means he can have woodchip for his market garden. “Some might be loss leaders, some might not offer very much capital, finance or income but they might provide manure for the market garden.”

The advantages of joint-ventures are debated in the podcast too – and are positively encouraged by the panel as a way for new entrants to get involved in farming.

Martin Lines encourages landlords to welcome the next generation.

“We have an ageing farming population. Having new people, new blood, new ideas will actually drive our industry on in a more positive way,” says Martin.

“It’s trying to give everyone the opportunity of coming together and seeing those opportunities. If we don’t, the risk will be we won’t be able to deliver a farming system in the future.”

The podcast is the second episode in this mini-series for young farmers to help them in their career journey in agriculture. To watch the first episode, visit here.

Further support can also be found in the Business Models To Unlock Future Farming Potential handbook.