Royal and church estates urged to help their farming tenants during coronavirus crisis

NFU vice president Tom Bradshaw has called on royal and church estate landlords to offer flexible re

NFU vice president Tom Bradshaw has called on royal and church estate landlords to offer flexible rents to their farming tenants during the coronavirus outbreak. Picture: Su Anderson - Credit: Archant

Farming leaders have called on institutional landlords – including estates owned by the Queen and the church – to show “flexibility and understanding” regarding their tenants’ rent during the coronavirus crisis.

National Farmers’ Union (NFU) vice president Tom Bradshaw, who farms in north Essex, has written to organisations including the Crown Estate, Church Commissioners, National Trust, Duchy of Cornwall and Duchy of Lancaster.

The letter explains how Covid-19 is creating specific challenges for farming businesses across the country, many which are still struggling to cope following a prolonged spell of wet weather which has led to widescale flooding.

Mr Bradshaw said: “Clearly, Covid-19 is having an immediate impact on some farming businesses, particularly those supplying processors heavily involved with the food service sector and with farm diversification enterprises involving leisure and tourism. Some of our members have told us that demand has stopped and bookings are being cancelled. We believe there will be farmers who are supplying a company that could very easily go into receivership.

“This current crisis follows six months of incessant rainfall with storms such as Ciara and Dennis leaving land under water for many weeks. Farmers are desperately hoping that things will dry up so that spring drilling can take place, however we already know that spring seed is very expensive and in short supply.

“We are asking landlords to be understanding towards tenants when it comes to paying rent – consider flexible payments, rent-free holidays and in some cases, a rent reduction. In fact, any help landlords can give to help their tenants during these unprecedented times.

“We will be encouraging our members to seek guidance on how to best manage any financial impact to their business, speaking to their bank and farm advisers, anything they can do to help any cash flow issues in the short and medium term.”

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