The NFU is urging landlords to keep rent increases at realistic levels following a challenging harvest which has seen yields down as much as 15 per cent.

It comes after the NFU heard from many of its members describing how landlords were looking to increase their rents significantly following this autumn’s review. The NFU believes this could have a devastating impact on their businesses and could force them out of the industry.

NFU Vice President Adam Quinney said: “After the results of our harvest survey which revealed that the wheat harvest was down by nearly 15 per cent as a result of the wet summer, it is more important than ever that landlords’ agents are realistic about what rent increases they are trying to achieve.

“Yields are down considerably and the quality has been badly affected by all the rain. This is then having an effect on the price achieved.”

David King, NFU tenants’ national spokesperson, said: “Harvest costs will have been higher than they have been in many years and the costs being incurred now by farmers to re-drill land are also higher due to time taken and delays due to the continuing wet weather. The livestock sector will be facing far higher feed costs and it has been very clear to everyone the pressure experienced by dairy farmers with the farm-gate milk prices.

“Therefore it is not realistic to be seeking the same rent increases from tenants that have been put forward in open market rent tenders by owner occupiers. They are looking to spread their fixed costs over additional land and not totally focussed on its profitability.”

Feedback from NFU members - tenants on core holdings who take other blocks of land on FBT arrangements – suggests that these increases are unsustainable and unrealistic, and that they could be forced to quit the industry as a result.

The NFU is therefore urging landlords to support their tenants and to have regard for individual tenants’ circumstances and the differences in land holdings on estates.

“Farmers want to invest in improving land and facilities on-farm and the over-high rents being sought will not allow this to happen. If there is no investment in improvements, landlords and tenants will both lose out in the long run,” added Mr Quinney.