A recent report suggests that land use in the UK is undergoing a major review that will result in ‘seismic change’, with so many farmers set to retire or leave farming for other reasons.

According to a report entitled Future of Land Occupation, a combination of the UK leaving the European Union and the new focus on climate change and biodiversity loss means that the land use changes will have a significant impact on farmers.

These drivers of change come at a time when 36 per cent of all farmers in the UK are over the typical retirement age of 65, up from 31 per cent in 2005, and this proportion is growing.

In fact, according to a recent Defra survey, some five per cent of farmers could retire within the next three to five years, while a further three per cent are expected to leave farming for other reasons. Six per cent are expected to reduce the size of their business.

These reasons will mean that more land currently used for agriculture could be up for sale or left soon as farmers retire and businesses restructure to make the most of new market and policy opportunities.

The Government is aiming to help farmers leave the industry through its Lump Sum Exit Scheme. However, this is potentially going to be of more use to tenants or smaller farming businesses than owner-occupiers, as this group might be in a position to sell land to generate funds while remaining in the occupation of their land.

This theory is borne out by the results of a different survey of tenant farmers, which found that 75 per cent of them are seriously interested in the scheme, with 40 per cent of these believing it to be their only opportunity to retire from agriculture. The scheme is also likely to appeal to smaller businesses making a trading loss.

For more information or advice on related matters, please contact our experts at Smailes Goldie today.

Posted in Agriculture, Blogs.