18 Feb ROBBIE TO BE A GUEST SPEAKER AT THE 2019 LINCOLNSHIRE FARMING CONFERENCE
Robbie Moore will be a guest speaker at this year’s Lincolnshire Farming Conference in which the Lincolnshire Agricultural Society will be celebrating its 150th year. With a theme focusing on how agriculture might look for the next 150 years, the conference will be held at the Epic Centre, Lincolnshire Showground on Tuesday 26th February 2019.
Robbie will be speaking about his Nuffield Farming Scholarship study report, entitled ‘addressing the perceived failings of Short Term Land Occupation’. Having recently travelled across the globe as part of his study topic, Robbie has interacted with landowners, farmers, the industry and governments to explore the opportunities for farmers linked to their availability of land. With his Nuffield report now published, Robbie’s Executive Summary is detailed below;
Land occupation agreements are increasingly becoming short term. The average length of a Farm Business Tenancy is just over 3 years for bare land. Our most valuable asset, the land and soils which we rely upon to supply food is progressively coming under strain.
The ‘rape and pillage’ scenario has long been associated with short term tenancies. High rents are paid and no, or little inputs are applied resulting in soil degradation and weed infestation. Too often we see insignificant investment in resources combined with the maximum extraction of the ‘goodness’ of the land by the occupier. Landowners focus too heavily on short term financial gain resulting in the long term wellbeing of their underlying asset suffering. New entrants or the next generation find it more difficult to get their ‘foot on the ladder’ when short term agreements are offered.
The primary goal of my report is to address such weaknesses, and in doing so, understand whether it is the length of the agreement that is the root cause or are there other influencing factors, such as tax, capital, our culture and our outlook. As a practicing rural surveyor, I was also keen to explore what role my profession has in influencing the structural makeup of land tenure agreements.
I visited France and The Netherlands, where protective tenancy legislation strictly governs the operation of land tenure arrangements; Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina to understand their relationship with soil and their strong devotion to improving its health and New Zealand, where a range of land tenure models are adopted. I also had a desire to understand the Maori culture, and their long term approach linking people, relationships and land.
Within all countries, I found strong concerns surrounding short term occupation. I sought potential mechanisms to address this but concluded that the agreements duration in itself, isn’t the issue. Short term thinking in farming businesses is the real sin, especially when there is a lack of open discussion between the landowner and occupier around their own objectives.
The farming sector, and professional advisers in particular, need to broaden their outlook and be more imaginative when it comes to land tenure options. The whole spectrum of land partnership models should be considered and in doing so, both the landowner and occupier should have aligned objectives, common goals and a clear vision. The removal of unnecessary regulatory barriers and changes to certain capital taxation reliefs would also help drive longer term planning.
A good strong relationship between a landowner and occupier based on trust, accountability and commitment is absolutely key. Without doubt, both parties should give due thought and consideration to their triple bottom line and address it wholeheartedly if they, their business and their assets are to be considered truly sustainable.
The Lincolnshire Farming Conference is one of the most prestigious events in the Lincolnshire farming calendar. The Conference is renowned for its mix of formal and informal debate and has now cemented its position as one of the ‘go-to’ farming conferences. The agenda is outlined below.
To find out more about the event, or to book your place, please click here.
Robbie would be happy to discuss his topic with you and can be contacted on 0789 109 7874 or [email protected]
Brockthorpe Consultancy, Barff Farm, Caenby, Market Rasen, Lincolnshire, LN8 2AG