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How a council tenancy acquired a brand new entrant onto farming ladder

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Greenfields Farm could solely be 12ha however it has given Aled Harper a foothold in farming and a starvation to develop his enterprise.

Within the three years since he was awarded the six-year farm enterprise tenancy (FBT), the 29-year-old farmer has established a flock of 70 ewes, a small herd of pigs and a direct gross sales enterprise for home-produced lamb and pork.

Though it might take years for some candidates to safe a tenancy, Greenfields, close to Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, was the primary farm he utilized for.

See additionally: Easy methods to grow to be a county council farm tenant

Mr Harper had been keeping track of the Pembrokeshire County Council web site for potential alternatives when he noticed the farm was up for let.

Though it was just some miles from his household’s smallholding, he was unaware that it was owned by the native authority.

“I made a decision to go for it – there’s lots of competitors for farmland regionally, so I knew it could be troublesome to progress within the path I wished to in farming with out a possibility like that,” he says.

Mr Harper all the time wished to farm, however knew it wouldn’t be a simple path to take as a first-generation farmer. He determined to coach as a carpenter and in addition labored on farms, gaining information on totally different features of farming. This expertise has been a giant assist in getting his enterprise up and working at Greenfields.

Farm info

  • 12ha (30 acres)
  • County Council Holding
  • Six-year farm enterprise tenancy
  • 70 Welsh Mule and Texel-type ewes
  • Lambs in February
  • 4 Welsh Pig cross Saddleback sows

The applying course of

Candidates for the tenancy have been required to submit a marketing strategy and supply a three-year projected cashflow.

Mr Harper was shortlisted all the way down to the ultimate 4 and given the chance to stroll the farm earlier than being interviewed.

The farm prices £7,600 a yr to hire. This consists of someplace for Mr Harper to stay, as there’s a two-bedroom home on the farm.

He’s liable for many of the upkeep and repairs, though some features, corresponding to drainage, are a shared price – with the native authority paying for the supplies and the tenant offering the labour.

Farm enterprises

Mr Harper felt sheep can be a greater route for the farm than cattle. “Until you might be dealing in calves, it takes a very long time to rear a beef animal as a retailer or to complete it earlier than you see a return.

“You’ll be able to lamb sheep within the spring and also you get an revenue from them inside just a few months,” he says.

Pembrokeshire’s standing as a high-risk TB space was one other issue that swayed his choice.

The flock was established with in-lamb ewes sourced from Whitland livestock mart. Mr Harper has since constructed numbers by shopping for extra and conserving replacements.

He has a mixture of Welsh Mules and Texel-type industrial ewes. Subsequent February, he’ll lamb 70.

© Debbie James

Breeding and gross sales

Rams run with the ewes for 3 cycles. This autumn, he used a teaser for the primary time as an alternative of sponging ewes.

It was costing him round £5 a ewe to sponge, and he calculated that he would lower your expenses with a teaser.

The flock lambs indoors from mid-February, and ewes and lambs are housed for a few weeks earlier than they’re turned out to grass.

Mr Harper doesn’t feed creep to lambs; the whole lot is completed off grass.

Most lambs are offered by means of native marts, at round 40kg liveweight, from the start of June to the tip of August. However some go to butchers or by means of field gross sales.

Mr Harper additionally has 4 sows on the farm. He has crossed Saddlebacks with a Welsh Pig and makes use of a Pietrain boar on these.

Sows common 2.5 litters a yr and these are offered direct to personal clients or to butchers, whereas weaners are offered on-line or by means of the market.

Future plans

The FBT expires in 2025 and Mr Harper will then have the choice of renewing it, or, if a bigger farm is offered, he can apply for that.

“I hope to be supplied one other farm. It’s my finest alternative to increase,” he says. He can’t make a dwelling from 12ha (30 acres) except he works in different jobs, too.

“As a substitute of accelerating the variety of starter farms, which I imagine some county councils are doing, I feel it could be extra useful in the event that they offered greater farms.”

Mr Harper says it’s not clear if he’s making a revenue from the farm.

That’s as a result of his accounts embody his off-farm revenue from two-and-a-half days engaged on an area dairy farm and his carpentry work.

He has additionally needed to make investments fairly closely in gear to get began.

He retains his pigs at his mother and father’ smallholding and makes use of amenities there for his boxed gross sales.

However he believes the farm will be financially viable and, importantly, will present a path to a much bigger holding.

He has taken full benefit of programs supplied by Farming Join to extend his talent set and has by no means had reservations about asking different farmers for recommendation.

“I’ve heard it stated that farmers are in competitors with one another, however the expertise I’ve had is that we’re all working collectively,” he says.

Tricks to safe a county council tenancy

The Tenant Farmers Affiliation (TFA) provides recommendation on securing a county council tenancy:

  • Be proactive – method county councils to register your curiosity and keep watch over the native and nationwide farming press. The TFA has a listing of identified tenancy alternatives obtainable to members
  • Don’t restrict your self to alternatives inside your native space
  • As soon as a possibility arises, request a young pack and ebook your self onto the viewing day
  • Use the viewing day to evaluate the land and buildings and take into account how you’d use them to your deliberate farming enterprise
  • Glean as a lot info as attainable from the agent, outgoing tenant and neighbouring farmers to assist inform your choice on an appropriate farming system for the farm
  • Enable loads of time to organize your software and ask a 3rd occasion – maybe an agent or adviser – to look over it
  • Guarantee all parts of your marketing strategy swimsuit the farm bodily and are permitted throughout the phrases of the settlement
  • When you don’t succeed in your first try, search suggestions from the agent – and preserve making an attempt.

The TFA can present devoted info and help to non-land-owning farmers in England and Wales. For extra particulars, go to tfa.org.uk

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