Across the UK County Councils are having ‘fire sales’ of farmland to plug their ailing finances
Not so here in Staffordshire. It’s a few years now since, in opposition, we scuppered County Labour’s plans to sell off thousands of hectares of Staffordshire’s publicly owned land which is used for starter farms.
Not least of which is food and milk production in times when transport costs are soaring and the production and cost of food is becoming more and more difficult. So instead of selling of the land forever more we decided to reform the way Staffordshire’s agricultural land works.
Under Labour it was a mess. The whole point of Staffordshire’s sizeable landholding was originally to help new farmers get a rung on the ladder and the experience to grow and diversify. In reality, for years under the the previous Labour County Councils, the land tenures which should have been a few years long to get people started ended up pretty well as lifetime ones.
Absolutely not the point. Cheap land rent for established successful farm businesses rather than the startup, training, progression and move on towards their own land or land rented on a commercial basis instead leaving the original public land for ’new’ farmers.
So, County Conservatives started work after winnining power in 2009 to renew the original principles meaning the cycle of stimulating new farmers and new businesses for the rural economy is back in shape and doing what it should do.
And what that means is, far from selling off public farmland, we are seeing it as more and more important in for Staffordshire to produce more food and grow the rural economy over the coming decades. All that was recognised during a recent BBC tv programme which also suggested Staffordshire was one of only a handful of County Councils maintaining or increasing public land holding for the future.
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