Changes heralded by new Bill
There is a present minimum retirement age of 65 for an existing tenant farmer under an Agricultural Holdings Act tenancy at which a nominated successor can apply to take a succession of the holding.
There is to be no minimum age in the new Agriculture Bill, which underwent its second reading in the House of Lords last month.
The criteria of the “suitability test” for a successor has been altered and must reflect the applicant's capacity to farm the holding to a high standard commercially with efficient production and care of the environment. The old alternative commercial unit test will also be removed where a potential successor would fail as they already had other land to farm viably.
A more flexible approach to the arbitration process is being brought in. Allied to this, an independent expert can be appointed instead of an arbitrator to determine rental levels if the parties are agreed on this.
This is a partial overview of some of the changes in the bill that are driven by the Government’s wish to see the modernisation of the industry as it has been 34 years since the last significant changes.
Steven Corfield is an agricultural consultant at FBC Manby Bowdler
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