Enthusiasm, energy, innovation and technical ability - these are just some of the qualities that new entrants to farming bring to the table. The County Council has high expectations of its tenants.
Tenants are expected to:
- Develop viable businesses as a sole or main form of employment, however, this will be commensurate with the size of holding occupie
- Be able to accumulate resources for future progression
- Produce quality products that add value, meet local needs and the demands of customers
- Be innovative and entrepreneurial
- Be cooperative with other tenants as well as the landlord and managing agents
- Have the necessary practical and management skills to react to changing circumstances
- Look to improve the environmental and social wellbeing of Norfolk residents, for example in maintaining footpaths and looking to increase the biodiversity of their holding
In return the County Council’s County Farms Team will support each tenant to achieve their goals through professional rural estate management.
Although in recent years there have been few new lettings on the Estate,many holdings will become available over the next five years as existing tenants reach retirement.
Advice for applicants
- Read carefully what is asked for in the letting particulars. If you identify possible training requirements, deal with it positively.
- Put together a CV, include your work experience and any relevant qualifications you have, including attendance on short courses. This can highlight where you may need additional training.
- Need essential skills such as business administration, record keeping, or to meet legislative requirements? Get investigating - funding may be available
- Be willing to learn! Even if you are offered a tenancy, show you are able to take on new skills or improve existing ones
- The County Council has established strict criteria for the tenants it wishes to attract. Applicants must be able to demonstrate and provide evidence that they have fully met each criteria:
- Applications from persons who are already established farmers in their own right and who intend to run the County Farm as an extension to their existing business, will not be considered in the first instance.
- Holdings are only available to persons who are prepared to farm them personally. In the event a tenant is challenged in this respect the onus will be on the tenant to satisfactorily demonstrate to the Council that they are in active management control of their farm and are exposed to commercial risk. The use of contractors for specific field operations is acceptable. Sub-letting of the farm is strictly prohibited.
- Where a dwelling is provided, it is a general requirement for the tenant to reside at the holding
- Tenants should not normally engage in any form of business other than agriculture, unless the holding is referred to as a part-time holding within the letting particulars, although ancillary complimentary activities will be considered and encouraged in individual cases, based upon their merits
- Norfolk County Council expect their tenants to demonstrate commitment to improving the environment and social wellbeing on their holdings. This will include a commitment to maintaining access on permissive paths/public rights of way, as well as creating new permissive access paths and woodlands and considering different forms of environmental stewardship.
- Preference will always be given, when selecting tenants, to applicants who can demonstrate that they have the most suitable practical and theoretical knowledge required for the type of farming most suited to the available holding
- Applicants must be able to demonstrate that they have sufficient capital to enable the proposed business to be established and to enter a holding and work it. This can be quite substantial where an incoming tenant may be required to pay for the outgoing tenant’s fixtures and fittings, the Basic Payment Scheme or other subsidy entitlements, live and dead stock, sufficient to properly farm the holding.
- In the case of holdings where farming is the main activity, applicants should be able to fulfil the minimum requirement of five years’ full-time practical farm work which may include up to three years attendance at a full-time course in agriculture
- Where the holding is small and the main enterprise proposed is non-agricultural, the applicant must be able to show sufficient experience in the proposed enterprise
- Applicants should normally be able to show that they have undertaken some formal training in the enterprise they propose to undertake and, other things being equal, preference will be given to these candidates. However, applicants may not be refused on these grounds alone if similar training and experience has been obtained in other demonstrable ways.
- The maximum length Farm Business Tenancy for a progression farm which will generally be entered into is for a period of up to 20 years (irrespective of any proposed retirement age). This will apply for new or renegotiated tenancies.
- It is unrealistic to lay down absolute criteria for the type of person required, but in practice it is an overriding important factor that the individual be keen, enterprising, adaptable and hardworking
- Applicants will not be discriminated against on the grounds of sex, race, marital status, sexual orientation, disability or age
- The rent payment record and general compliance with tenancy agreements of existing tenants will be taken into account when and if they apply for another holding on the County Farms Estate
- Applicants who can demonstrate direct employment generation potential from their proposed business enterprise will have an enhanced likelihood of success
- Existing tenants successfully applying for a progression holding will be required to surrender their existing holding as a condition of being offered the new holding
Getting a foot on the farming ladder
Follow these ten top tips for applying yourself to ensure you make the most of future opportunities:
- Understand yourself - What are your objectives, strengths and weaknesses? What motivates you? Why do you want this farm? Do your skills and knowledge match the tenant profile/ letting particulars for the farm? By being honest with yourself from the start it will save time and energy applying for a farm that is not suitable for you
- Understand the Council - The Council has many wider objectives to achieve through the use of the Estate. If you want to be a tenant you should understand and preferably share its aims. For instance, a true and demonstrable commitment to the natural environment is crucial
- Understand the farm - Why does the Council own the farm and what is important about it? Answering this key question will help you understand the type of management we would like to see. Read the Strategic Review and Management Plan for the estate, if available, and take time to walk around and get a really good feel for the place.
- Sell yourself! From the moment you walk on to the farm on viewing day, to the application form, business plan and interview, you should sell yourself by showing good communication skills and a positive approach. Ask questions and don’t hide your skills and enthusiasm under a bushel.
- Take your time to apply - Don’t rush the form filling. You might be a brilliant farmer but if your application is poor you might not shine through
- Do the maths - The Council wants your business to succeed. You will be expected to provide thorough business plans that have been well thought out and are realistic. Don’t fool yourself and over-estimate viability and rental value and so on, as the business will fail in the medium term. Make sure you fully understand the figures you produce. You will be probed on your figures!
- Prepare for interview - Most applicants have limited experience of formal interviews. If your application and business plan are good you may be selected for interview. Make sure you prepare thoroughly and practise.
- Keep trying - Farm lettings are very competitive. If you don’t succeed at the first attempt then find out what you could improve on and try again when the right opportunity arises. Where tenancy opportunities are sparse consider other options such as joint ventures, contract farming and taking grazing on short term grazing lets to get your foot in the door
- Keep learning - Learning is a continuous process. Regularly assess the skills and knowledge you possess and seek further training and hands-on experience where needed. If you haven’t got enough environmental or farming experience consider volunteer work or find a suitable mentor. It is useful to summarise your skills and ensure you have copies of any qualifications you have achieved that may be relevant to your application
- Ask for help - There are many organisations who offer help with training and personal development such as Fresh Start, Lantra and local colleges. Private consultancies and land agency firms can also assist with farm finding and applications