Agricultural property rights and the county farms estate in England and Wales

Prince, Nick (2012) Agricultural property rights and the county farms estate in England and Wales. PhD thesis, University of Gloucestershire.

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Abstract

Structural change across the agricultural sector in the United Kingdom has continued to reduce the opportunities for new farmers to enter the industry. This, in turn, has led to a reduction in and ageing of the agricultural workforce. The difficult situation has been compounded by conditions in the agricultural tenancy sector, which also reduce the number of opportunities made available to new entrants. These structural changes have, in theory, increased the significance of the County Farms Estate (CFE) in England and Wales as a widely recognised entry mechanism into tenant farming. However, little is know about the current structure of this service as it has received limited attention within academic research. This research provides the first detailed analysis of the CFE for over forty years. It adopts a property rights approach and focuses on the property relationships associated with State regulation and the ownership, occupation and use of the CFE. This allows an examination of its current structure and future potential as an agricultural service and as a county council and local authority asset. A three-stage, mixed methodology is developed, with the findings of the first two stages used to inform the detailed content of the final stage. The first stage employs a desk-based analysis of secondary data to explore the historic development and current structure of the CFE. Location Quotient analysis is used to map the geographical concentration of the CFE in relation to the wider agricultural and tenanted sectors at the county council and local authority level. The second stage uses an electronic questionnaire survey of estate managers to examine key influences on estate management strategy and their consequences for the use of, and relationships associated with, estate property. The final stage involves detailed case study analysis in three specific local authorities (Cambridgeshire, Gloucestershire and Powys). Here, the research focuses on the influence of state regulation on the ownership, occupation and use of property rights on each estate, as well as the consequential impacts on both landlords (county councils and local authorities) and tenants (new entrants and established tenants). The analysis of secondary and questionnaire data highlights how the geographical distribution of the contemporary CFE occurs mainly in two regional clusters: first, in the arable areas of eastern England; and secondly, in the livestock rearing areas of western and south-western England and Wales. Historically, the development of the CFE was influenced by direct regulation. However, it is increasingly being used to satisfy wider statutory obligations. This increases the level of potential socio-economic outputs obtained from estate ownership (agricultural provision, non-agricultural rentals, environmental, recreational and education). However, the rates at which individual county councils and local authorities engage with direct and indirect State regulation vary. Detailed case study analysis helped to identify how individual estate management policies can be categorised into one of four differing strategies: consolidation; partial disinvestment (rationalisation); partial disinvestment (core estate); and comprehensive disinvestment. These strategies are defined by the level and type of property retention. Each strategy has consequential impacts on the distribution of the rights to property, influencing the socio-economic benefits of estate ownership. As the rate of property disposal increases, so the level of socio-economic outputs falls. Property disposal does, however, increase the short-term economic benefits of estate ownership through sales receipts. At local and national levels, the CFE is a key source of agricultural property rights, particularly the provision of equipped holdings. However, many of those accessing these holdings are not new entrants and have previously held some agricultural property rights. Established tenants often progress their farm business by using their current holding as a base. Business expansion strategies include the occupation of additional land, on-farm diversification and off-farm employment. These often and invariably tie a tenant to the existing holding as a point of access to business and marketing opportunities, thus reducing opportunities for new tenants. In order to manipulate property relationships, tenants rely heavily on the family as a source of social and financial capital.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Advisors:
Thesis AdvisorEmailURL
Ilbery, Brianbilbery@glos.ac.ukUNSPECIFIED
Kirwan, Jamesjkirwan@glos.ac.ukUNSPECIFIED
Maye, Damiandmaye@glos.ac.ukUNSPECIFIED
Uncontrolled Keywords: Agricultural tenancy, Tenant farming, Agricultural property rights, Country Farms Estate (CFE), England, Wales
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Divisions: Faculty of Business, Computing and Applied Sciences > Countryside and Community Research Institute
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2015 14:12
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2017 16:38
URI: http://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/1252

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