Land to let will be limited says SAAVA

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RENEWABLES will continue to dominate the rural agenda in 2013 and land reform will damage the let-land market, says the Scottish Agricultural Arbiters & Valuers Association (SAAVA).

The president of SAAVA, which represents over 200 agricultural valuers, arbiters, auctioneers, solicitors, surveyors, accountants and other professionals, Martin Hall said: “We have seen a significant expansion in on farm renewable energy production, mainly from wind turbines in 2012.

“Other forms of renewable energy production are now gaining momentum and the renewable sector is likely to continue to dominate the rural agenda in the coming year.

“Unfortunately the resurgent land reform debate can only be detrimental to the let-land market in 2013. When this can of worms is open, many landowners cannot be convinced that there is no prospect of an absolute right to buy.

“If there is scarcity of land to let this will be harmful to farm businesses seeking to expand and to new entrants alike. Short term contract farming agreements may flourish, but longer term lets almost certainly won’t.”

Concerning agricultural tenancies, SAAVA is set to roll out its short-form arbitration process early next year, aimed at helping tenants and landlords resolve disputes without going to the Land Court.

Unsurprisingly the association lists poor weather as dominating the agricultural sector last year saying it even put off potential buyers of farmland. SAAVA also cites uncertainty over CAP reform and the independence debate as being detrimental to the land market in 2012, and potentially also in 2013.

From a financial perspective the further tightening by reluctant-to-lend banks caused difficulty. Low interest rates helped many businesses, but was balanced out by pound to euro parity leading to reduced Single Farm Payment.

But SAAVA president Martin Hall said: “It is great to see the positive steps that have been made to provide starter units to new entrants. Forestry is now sexy again and has the potential to provide good returns. The Tenant Farming Forum (TFF) and their rent review working group are to be applauded for the efforts towards taking the heat out of rent-reviews.”

He also hopes house builders will help grow the economy out of recession this year.