Survey of the Views of Owner Occupier Farmers on Current Issues for Tenant Farming

This survey of owner occupier farmers is part of a series of evidence to support the Agricultural Holdings Legislation Review Group.



1.1 The Scottish Government commissioned Ipsos MORI to carry out a survey of farmers who neither rent-out nor rent-in agricultural land. The aim of the research was to assess the nature of agricultural land ownership and to identify and assess the future intentions of agricultural owner occupiers and their views on renting-out land. This included an examination of the proposal to grant tenant farmers with agricultural tenancies secured under the 1991 Act, the Absolute Right to Buy (ARtB).

1.2 The survey measured: details of agricultural owner occupiers' businesses; the current level and types of agricultural land owned in Scotland; changes in land tenure since 2000; views on renting-out agricultural land and the likelihood of renting-out land in the future; views on the future of the farming sector in Scotland; and views on the Absolute Right to Buy.

1.3 The research will support the Ministerial led review of the Agricultural Holdings legislation that is being carried out by the Agricultural Holdings Legislation Review Group (AHLRG).

1.4 It is part of a series of studies being conducted on behalf of the Scottish Government to support the development of agricultural policy and regulation. Separate surveys of tenant farmers and agricultural landlords providing evidence on similar and additional issues have also been conducted.


1.5 A self-completion survey was sent by post to a sample of 3,000 landowners who do not rent-out or rent-in agricultural land in Scotland: that is owner occupier farmers. All farmers who were known to rent-out or rent-in land had been included in previous surveys, so a dataset was compiled of the remaining farmers. From this a random sample was taken, stratified by region and size of farm. Recipients were asked not to return the form if they had somehow been included in either the tenant or the landlord survey.

1.6 A small number of farmers reported that they had already completed the Tenant Farmer survey or the Agricultural Landowner survey that covers similar issues. These people were advised to not complete the survey.

1.7 In some cases, the survey will have been completed by a family member, representative of the landowner/company, or employee such as an estate manager, factor or land agent. Certain questions were asked only of specific groups of owner occupier farmers, such as individual business owners, family businesses and partnerships. It is possible that in a small number of cases, these questions have been answered in error. Occasions where this may have occurred have been footnoted in the report.

1.8 Fieldwork took place between 11 June and 9 July 2014. (The questionnaire is provided in Appendix 1.)

1.9 A total of 95 questionnaires were returned as undeliverable or considered out of scope for some other reason such as the recipient being a crofter. A total of 337 surveys were completed, giving an overall final response rate of 12%.

1.10 Results were weighted to reflect the distribution of owner occupier farmers by regional location and size of farm according to the Agricultural Census.

1.11 Table 1.1 shows the unweighted and weighted number of respondents by broad geographical area. Response rates were lowest in the North West (7%) but broadly similar across the other areas.

Table 1.1: Respondents by area

North East North West South East South West
Total population 486 1,270 478 766
Percentage 16% 42% 16% 26%
Unweighted total of
completed surveys
69 92 70 106
Unweighted Percentage 20.5% 27.3% 20.8% 31.5%
Weighted total of
completed surveys
54 142 54 106
Response rate 14% 7% 15% 14%

1.12 Table 1.2 shows the spread of respondents by size of farm. Response rates were highest among owner occupiers of farms over 100 hectares in size (19%).

Table 1.2: Respondents by type of farm

<1ha 1-<2ha 2-<5ha 5-<10ha 10-<20ha 20-<50ha 50-<100ha 100+ha
Total population 256 406 742 408 313 320 226 329
Percentage 8.5% 13.5% 24.7% 13.6% 10.4% 10.6% 7.5% 10.9%
Unweighted total
of completed
23 31 79 41 29 38 34 62
6.8% 9.2% 23.4% 12.2% 8.6% 11.3% 10.1% 18.4%
Weighted total of
completed surveys
28 45 83 47 33 37 27 37
Response rate 9% 8% 11% 10% 12% 12% 15% 19%

1.13 The survey findings are subject to sampling tolerances, meaning that not all differences will be statistically significant. Throughout the report, differences between sub-groups are commented upon only where these are statistically significant, i.e. where we can be 95% certain that they have not occurred by chance, and are on the assumption that there is no response bias.

1.14 Where respondents have left a question blank, these have been excluded from the base. Where percentages do not sum to 100%, this may be due to rounding or where multiple answers were allowed.


Email: Liz Hawkins

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