NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw has written to all institutional landlords urging them to work with their tenants and show flexibility and understanding with regard to rent in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The letter has been sent to The Crown Estate, National Trust, Church Commissioners, Duchy of Cornwall and Duchy of Lancaster.
In the letter, Mr Bradshaw explains how COVID-19 is creating specific challenges for farming businesses across the country, many which are still struggling to cope following a prolonged spell of wet weather which has led to widescale flooding.
Mr Bradshaw said: “Clearly, COVID-19 is having an immediate impact on some farming businesses; particularly those supplying processors heavily involved with the food service sector and with farm diversification enterprises involving leisure and tourism. Some of our members have told us that demand has stopped and bookings are being cancelled. We believe there will be farmers who are supplying a company that could very easily go into receivership.
“This current crisis follows six months of incessant rainfall with storms such as Ciara and Dennis leaving land under water for many weeks; large areas are still too wet to drill at the present time, following no drilling in the autumn. Farmers are desperately hoping that things will dry up so that spring drilling can take place, however we already know that spring seed is very expensive and in short supply.”
Mr Bradshaw says that the NFU is working closely with its members to give them the latest guidance on grants and loans available from government in regard to the impacts of COVID-19.
He said: “We are asking landlords to be understanding towards tenants when it comes to paying rent; consider flexible payments, rent-free holidays and in some cases, a rent reduction. In fact, any help landlords can give to help their tenants during these unprecedented times.
“We will be encouraging our members to seek guidance on how to best manage any financial impact to their business, speaking to their bank and farm advisers, anything they can do to help any cash flow issues in the short and medium term.”