Tenant Farmers Meet to Protest
24 Feb 2018: Cayman Isles Registered Tax Free Buccleuch Estates accused of ‘bullying and intimidation’ by tenant farmers who are having their tenancy ended.
At a public meeting in Langholm last night the audience heard from Alison and David Telfer of Cleuchfoot who spoke emotionally about the way they had been treated.
The Estate Chief Executive, John Glen attended together with Oliver Mundell, Dumfriesshire MSP, and chairman Chris Badenoch.
Mrs Telfer said that last September they were told their lease would probably not be renewed. They met Alan Nisbet, then the estate manager, in October.
She said: “He told us our lease was ending at the end of February, that the hill would be planted and the house and the rest of the land sold.
“He said ‘the die is cast, this will happen’. Whatever our retirement plans were, bring them forward four or five years.
“We asked what would happen to our hefted flock of South Country Cheviot’s. He said they would be cleared and we couldn’t be sentimental about sheep.
“We subsequently found out that Buccleuch’s forester had been at the community council meeting the night before we were officially told what was happening on our farm.
“He said the farm was not big enough on its own to provide an income and the farmer was coming out at the end of November. Neither statement was true.”
She said negotiations continued but they weren’t happy with Buccleuch’s proposals because Buccleuch wouldn’t buy the sheep.
“Our agent rang us on February 14 to say that Mr Glen had issued a very distressing ultimatum; that if we didn’t agree to their proposals, the next day they would start proceedings to evict us at the end of the month.
“We eventually signed the paperwork on the 22nd but we aren’t happy with what we’ve had to sign. We feel we were bullied and intimidated into it.”
Mr Glen said he never intended to have this effect on the tenants.
He said: “I regret and I’m sorry if that’s the feeling. It’s not what we’re aiming to do. We want to have professional conversations with our tenants.
“I do take it on board and I’ll look at our processes if that’s the way you think people (at Buccleuch) are behaving.”
Mundell said: “You (Buccleuch) have to accept that, if that’s the perception people have of your organization, that’s not a good position to be in.
“People aren’t always happy with the outcome of negotiations between a landlord and tenant but this here goes beyond that.
“Tenants feel intimidated and can’t speak out. I’ve lost count of the number of people who can’t believe that it’s come to this.
“We’re now in the very sad position where people don’t trust what you have to say and something seriously needs to be done to address that. It’s not a happy position for a community to be in.
“Of course, there is change but it’s the pace of change which shocked people.” (Eskdale & Liddlesdale Advertiser)
And why was Joan McAlpine not in attendance. She referred the issue to Holyrood
MSP Joan McAlpine has raised questions over Buccleuch Estates ending tenancies on their land in Eskdale with the intention to plant trees instead.
Ms McAlpine wrote to ministers after she was approached by tenants facing eviction at the hands of Scotland’s biggest private landowner.
The local MSP asked Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing what can be done to ensure that landowners like Buccleuch are not incentivised to plant forestry at the expense of tenant farmers.
She has also questioned whether Buccleuch’s actions go against the spirit of the Land Reform Act – and has written to Land Reform Secretary Roseanna Cunningham for advice. Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:
“I understand the importance of forestry and timber production. The aim of planting more trees is commendable. However, this should absolutely not be at the expense of tenant farmers – we need to ensure that landowners like Buccleuch are not exploiting their tenants to line their own pockets.”
Constituents also informed Ms McAlpine that Buccleuch Estates had promised a community meeting on the issue – where locals could air their grievances and ask questions in a public forum.
However, the meeting – scheduled for the 27th of February – is to be run as a drop in, and locals are disappointed since this is not what was promised.
Ms McAlpine has approached Buccleuch to ask them to reconsider the format of the meeting. She said:
“Buccleuch Estates promised a community meeting and this is what the community are expecting – I have written to them and hope that they will deliver on this.”
Pentland Ltd, is a company based in the Cayman Islands.
It is part of the extensive group of companies whose ultimate parent undertaking and controlling entity is ‘The Buccleuch Estates Limited’ (BEL) and is listed in the annual accounts as a subsidiary undertaking with the principal activity of property development through which money is routinely loaned at keen interest rates between all of the aforesaid companies in the group.
The company is a subsidiary of:
(1) Dabton Investments Ltd. Founded initially by the current duke and his brother Damian and incorporated in May 2009, Dabton Investments Ltd was owned by the Scott family until 2013 when 100% of the issued share capital was acquired by Tarras Park Properties Ltd:
Tarras Park is in turn a subsidiary of:
(2) Buccleuch Properties Limited, a BEL company.
The consortium, valued in excess of £90million comprises Mixed Farming, Farming, Farm Management, Property, Agricultural Services, Estate Management, Fishing, Property Development, Forestry, Residential Developments, Bioenergy, Rural Land Management and House Building, Bioenergy
Important, comprehensive reviews of the activities of Buccleuch Consortium are to be found at:
Brexit – National Farmers Union Policy Statement
NFU Scotland considers it vital that the outcome of the Brexit negotiations give Scottish farmers, crofters and growers opportunities to profitably and sustainably grow their businesses so they can continue to underpin the rural economy, local communities and environmental gains.
Brexit – Tory Government Proposed Policies
Michael Gove, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural affairs, at the start of his tenure undertook, as part of the Brexit process, to end the unwarranted farming cash bonanza titled the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) which for nearly 45 years has further increased the wealth of already very rich landowners simply in recognition of the amount of land in their ownership.
At the outset the CAP had been based around the provision of financial subsidies generating the production of an obscene excess of unneeded food, subsequent mass storage and disposal as landfill of huge butter mountains and wine lakes etc.
Then, after nearly 30 years of discussion within the EU, sense appeared to prevail and in 2003 the system was reformed only to be replaced with one even more banal in its concept.
Wealthy landowners would be paid huge sums of money annually to reduce farming activities whilst maintaining large tracts of their land in an agricultural state. Simply put, “money for old rope” coupled with the demise of tenant farmers whose leased tilled land would be left to return to nature. Small farmers got even poorer, but the rich big boys got richer.
The solution, post Brexit according to Gove is to get rid of the CAP allowing the Tory Party government to bring about a fundamental change in the nations approach to farming resulting from an absence of massive financial subsidies forcing farmers to produce only that which they are able to sell on for a profit to the food chain.
No more food mountains to be buried or fed to farm animals. Protection barriers to worldwide trade to be dismantled. A modern day utopia for the British public and a substantial saving for the Exchequer (£3bn annually) in London.
But all is not that straight forward, Gove is not of a mind to “slit his throat” taking anything away from the Ruth Davidson’s bakers dozen of right wing Unionist MP’s elected to parliament in London in 2017 on a binding promise to Scottish farmers to get rid of the CAP and replace it with a system more beneficial to all Scots in the farming community.
Gove’s new policy is to be one of financial reward for compliance with government policies directed at the protection of wildlife, plant life and the environment. Rates of payment are to be maintained at existing levels until 2022.
The impact of the policy will be to further increase the wealth of rich landowners who will convert their huge estates and farms into nature reserves and rambles with the guarantee of financial reward from government.
Thereafter reaping a second recurring and ever growing financial return on investment from hunting, fishing, shooting and other field sports and activities.
Sheep farming will be at risk since the return on investment will outweighed by income from estate visitors. Gentleman farmers no more. “Lords of leisure” a more fitting description.
And what is to become of the small farmer? Well, it is expected they will continue to attract financial support, reduced by a surcharge levy for any perceived damage to the environment caused by their farming activities.
But Scots are entitled to be assured that their taxes are utilized by the government efficiently eg. protecting the nations food production from failure or deterioration and improving the environment. Not lining the pockets of the rich.
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