Don’t give forestry grants to landowners clearing out tenants.
Stop landowners removing people from farms or demanding they buy or quit because he can obtain vast sums of public funding to plant commercial forestry instead through the Forestry Grant Scheme.
Why is this important?
The Scottish Government is currently promoting the increase of forestry by awarding huge sums of money through the Forestry Grant Scheme. But this is being abused by some landowners.
Currently landlords are in a position to legally evict tenants, who are in non-secure leases through no fault of their own, and then obtain large sums of money from the Scottish public purse to plant trees on viable agricultural land.
Every farm unit that closes means a loss of livelihood to the tenants, a loss of tenant farmers for Scotland, a loss of farming diversity in a country with the most concentrated pattern of land ownership in the developed world, and a loss of people, skills and trade for fragile rural economies.
I first became aware of this when good friends who had farmed as managers for a previous tenant for 8 years, and a further 10 years in their own right, were abruptly told that their lease would not be renewed and their farming ground would be turned over to trees. I have witnessed at first hand how their lives have been devastated. All attempts to negotiate an extension have been handled appallingly by the landlord’s estate and even the intervention of MSPs, the new Land Commission, and the local Tenants Association, have failed to halt the imminent eviction.