Tenant farmers on two Crown Estate Scotland (CES) properties are being offered the opportunity to buy their farms.
Secure tenants on Auchindoun Estate in Moray and Applegirth Estate in Dumfriesshire are part of a pilot initiative, and if it is successful it may be extended to tenants on other estates.
The tenants on Auchindoun and Applegirth are being asked to express an interest in four options.
They are: buying the farm at an agreed price; relinquishing their tenancy for value along the lines set out in the Land Reform Act 2016; a joint sale of the farm to a third party on an agreed- share basis; or maintaining the status quo and remaining as tenants.
The move has been welcomed by the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association (STFA) which described CES as making history as the first large-scale landlord to give tenants such an open range of voluntary options.
STFA chairman, Christopher Nicholson, said: “In general, tenants are enthusiastic about the proposed farm sales and the opportunities they are to be offered.
“Some have expressed concerns about the future of a fragmented rural estate following farm sales, especially if the majority of remaining tenants are non-secure tenants with fixed-term leases. With the obvious pressures from forestry, fixed-term tenants are concerned about their future when the time comes to negotiate new leases to continue farming their holdings.
“However, reassurances have been given to tenants that CES will continue to act as a responsible landlord fulfilling its statutory and traditional obligations to its tenants whatever the type of lease.”
STFA has “strongly recommended” the tenants take good professional advice, particularly in the negotiation of the purchase price or in agreeing a settlement for relinquishing the tenancy.
CES’s Corporate Plan for 2020 to 2023 commits to raising capital through asset sales for reinvestment, some of which will come from farm sales.
CES manages about 30,000 ha of tenanted land over four estates.