The future of the tenanted sector in British agriculture: a review of the proposals for change
Gibbard, R. and Ravenscroft, N., (1993) The future of the tenanted sector in British agriculture: a review of the proposals for change. Working Papers in Land Management & Development. 11/93. Working Paper. University of Reading, Reading. pp22.
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The impending decline of the tenanted sector in British agriculture has been forecast for many years. Much debate has surrounded the issues and ensuing legislation has repeatedly attempted to stave-off what some view as the inevitable demise of tenant farmers. Following a flurry of activity after the Northfield Report of 1979 and culminating in the Agricultural Holdings Acts of 1984 and 1986, the debate has recently been fuelled by a strongly pro-market lobby. With the public support of successive Ministers of Agriculture, this lobby has advocated a rejection of the former state intervention in the landlord/tenant relationship in favour of freedom of contract, an option that now appears increasingly likely to reach the statute books. This paper reviews the significant elements of the debate, attempting to explain the principal reasons for the failure of earlier legislation and the primary shortcomings of the current emphasis of consultation. The paper concludes that while there are some significant legislative disincentives to letting land, the freeing-up of contracts in isolation from other, non-contractual issues, will not result in the increase in lettings purportedly desired by the Ministers and their acolytes.