The situation for young farmers seeking to enter the industry seems to be improving with increasingly more farms becoming available to rent around the country, it has been claimed.
The Tenant Farmers Association this week said it had been “inundated” throughout May with information about farms and land to rent, particularly from county councils offering up increased lettings.
And while the situation is not so promising in Yorkshire, the TFA said it hoped the increased confidence in the market would inspire large landowners to offer to let more small-scale farms in order to help young people enter the farming industry.
Last year the Yorkshire Post revealed that many county councils, including North Yorkshire County Council, were pursuing a policy of selling off their farms.
George Dunn, TFA chief executive, said: “There is a concern that there will soon be no more county council farms in Yorkshire. We hope, however that there is an increase in lettings which spreads to other parts of the country, such as Yorkshire.
“You have great estates in the region like Hovingham, Harewood and around Wharfedale and Wensleydale – if we can generate confidence then we could be in a good place to move forward.
“I have been with the TFA for over 15 years and I’ve never known a month like it.
“Many of the opportunities come from county council estates with over 20 from Norfolk County Council alone.
“This is a clear sign that county council smallholdings can and do continue to offer opportunities whilst providing vital resources to fund other county council, frontline services.
“Those local authorities that see their county farms estates as a drain on resources would do well to take a leaf from the asset management manuals of the likes of Norfolk, Cornwall and Staffordshire.”
Seven of the Norfolk farms are fully equipped and range from 70 acres to 270 acres.
The remainder are bare land holdings from 10 acres to 90 acres. Cornwall County Council is offering two holdings of 60 acres and 130 acres. Staffordshire County Council is offering a 60-acre holding. On other estates there are over 1800 acres to let in Lincolnshire, 500 acres in Somerset and the Church Commissioners are offering over 760 acres to rent in Kent.
Mr Dunn said that the lack of holdings was a huge problem facing the farming industry. The average age of a UK farmer is now thought to be in his sixties but agricultural colleges are increasingly finding themselves receiving more and more applications from young people.