Dynamic Tenant - Landlord Collaborations. Investing In The Long Term Future Of Scotland's Tenanted Farming Sector

18 June 2014

The ongoing political debate about tenant farming all too often portrays landowners and tenants being on opposite sides of the fence and engaged in a battle of wills. However, there is clear evidence that, day-to-day, not only are tenants and landlords getting on with the job but are engaged in very constructive working relationships.

Tenant farmers the Wilsons with their new dairy business on Caledonian Estate

Two cases from the West of Scotland are the most recent examples of how much can be achieved when the two parties collaborate to create prosperity and benefiting towards a healthy tenanted farming sector in Scotland.     

In the first case, tenant farmers Willie, Andrew and Steven Wilson of the Caledonian Estate on the edge of Glasgow, owned by Derwent London plc, have developed a new dairy business, which started producing milk earlier this year. The farm is let under a new Limited Duration Tenancy agreement from May 2014 for a 10 year period with an increased acreage of over 250 acres. The Wilson family have been tenant farmers on the land since 2001 however under a Limited Partnership agreement and during this time the farm business focused on suckler cows and cereals. They also help with the Estates in-hand farming operation.

The Wilson’s acquired one of the two original farm steadings earlier this year which also included a house and developed it into a dairy which took a few months to complete.  Investing in the business, the Wilson’s replaced the former suckler cow herd by 140 cows bought from various herds throughout Holland and Scotland with all the cows being housed in straw bedded open courts. The modern labour effective 12:24 Westfalia swing over milking parlour installed this year when working to maximum capacity will produce 3500 litres of milk a day which is sold to Robert Graham Dairies in Bridge of Allan.

Willie Wilson said: “We have enjoyed a prosperous relationship with our landlord since we became tenant farmers on the estate back in 2001 and are delighted to have invested in the farm long term by developing our own dairy. With input from various sources including our landlord as well as the estates management consultants we have been able to realise our potential and create a successful family business.”

Landlord, Charmaine Rees of Derwent London said: “It has been a great achievement for the Wilsons to establish a thriving dairy farm on our estate and we are delighted that they have helped to diversify the farm’s offerings. Being able to set up a 10 year Limited Duration Tenancy for the Wilsons has been a tremendous boost in helping us plan towards our long term collaborative business goals and aspirations.”

Over on Elderslie Estates in Renfrewshire, owned by Mark Crichton-Maitland which extends to some 4,000 acres based around Houston, to the West of Glasgow, another example of successful tenant-landlord collaboration can be witnessed. The estate has around 1,000 acres of in-hand farm land and a number of tenanted farmers. One such tenant is Willie Harper who together with his family a members of a QMS ‘monitor farm’ on the estate with a suckler herd producing high quality beef as well as retailing meat direct to the local community.  

The farm extends to over 350 acres and is let under a rolling five year Short Limited Duration Tenancy. Investment in excess of £110,000 was made by the landlord in 2012/13 to provide new livestock buildings for the tenant, with substantial investment also being made by the tenants to improve the buildings as well as planning to develop a new silage pit. This investment will allow the unit to expand over the coming years through increased production.  

Willie Harper said: “It is a pleasure to be working with the team at Elderslie Estates with the landlord taking a great interest in our business and working closely with us to enhance our productivity as well as under an arable contract farming arrangement whilst at the same time being mutually beneficial to the estate and its local community.”  

Each development has been project managed by Chris Addison Scott of CKD Galbraith as part of the firm’s ongoing estates management services carried out for both Estates.

Chris Addison Scott said; “We advise estates managers on a wide range of issues and diversification opportunities and it has been very encouraging to be part of the collaborative work undertaken at both Caledonian and Elderslie Estates whereby two very successful business investment decisions have come to fruition. Both projects highlight a healthy tenant-landlord relationship which is imperative in today’s modern tenanted farming sector in order to identify opportunities and enhance the sector for generations to come.”

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