Mike Innerdale, Assistant Director of Operations in the North, said:
The majority of our farms in the Lakes are leased on multi-generational or life-time tenancies (51 out of 91) under specific legislation. The rest of our tenancies are offered for an average minimum length of 15-years, which is three times longer than the national average and goes well beyond the 10-year minimum the Tenants’ Farmers Association has been calling for across the industry.
We want to maintain and build strong, long-term relationships with our farm tenants in the Lakes: they need to know we’re committed to them and supporting them – so that they have the confidence to invest in their business. We will be writing to all our tenants in the Lakes to reassure them of our long-term commitment to hill farming and hill farmers. We are also discussing with farming representatives about how we make the tenancy renewal process as fair, transparent and open as possible. We want long-term tenants and there’s no reason why tenancies wouldn’t be renewed if both parties are happy.
Farming will continue to be right at the heart of how we manage our land in the Lakes in the future. We know that no-one is better placed to care for these magnificent landscapes, to improve the natural environment and maintain the traditions of this beautiful area than the hill farmers who have helped shaped it.
We want to work in partnership with our tenants and we’re working hard to improve the way we listen, support and help our farmers. We know there’s always more we could do as a landlord and that we don’t always get it right. We stand by our decision to buy farmland at Thorneythwaite for the nation but recognise we made mistakes in how we handled this and we didn’t do well enough in terms of communicating with the farming community.
Hill farming in the UK is facing a complex set of challenges, with uncertainty over subsidies post-Brexit, declining wildlife and increased flood risks. The Trust has already outlined a number of proposals which we believe will help support and retain a farming community, improve bio-diversity and the retain the skills and knowledge needed to maintain the cultural landscape of the Lakes. We however don’t pretend to have all the answers and we need to find solutions together with the farming and local communities and partner organisations to ensure farms continue to not only survive but to thrive.