Starter farm initiative - tenant insights: review

This report is an evaluation from the perspective of the tenants of the starter farm initiative of 9 starter farms which were made available from 2012 for a period of 10 years.

Starter Farm Tenancy Application Process

Tenants rated the application process between 4 and 8 on a difficulty scale where 0 was not at all challenging and 10 was extremely difficult. Comments about the process ranged from "not overly challenging - consultant did what if scenarios for us" to "certainly stretched the brain - made you think about what you would do" and that "the interview process was incredibly in depth". Tenants that did most, or all, of the application themselves found it easier than those that paid for help. More than half the tenants interviewed had help with preparing their application, most commonly from a business consultant/land agent.

Nearly all interviewees had prepared cashflows, enterprise budgets and balance sheets prior to applying for the starter farm. Some commented that the process used on the starter farms differed from other tenancies they had applied for, with more information needed about financial projections for the Starter Farm. Further, some reported a more in depth "grilling" at the interview (where the panel "knew our tender inside and out") compared to other tender processes, that were more focused on the "how much rent you would pay".

The cost of the tenancy application process was also raised as a problem, with some estimating that it could have cost some applicants in the region of £3,000 to pay someone to prepare their application. One suggestion about how this process could be improved was to split it into two stages so only when the applicant(s) got to stage two would they need to produce in depth financial details.



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