Hampshire County Council has a number of equipped farms, bare arable land and pasture land in its portfolio. These comprise the County Farms Estate.
The County Farms Estate provides a starter level route into agriculture, with all of the opportunities and liabilities a farming business will involve. In a few years, starter tenants will be ready to move on to larger agricultural opportunities and secure an independent livelihood in the agriculture industry. This helps to ensure a sustainable future for Hampshire's rural economy and communities.
New farm lets are by Farm Business Tenancy Agreements under the Agricultural Tenancies Act 1995. Some bare land lets are either by Farm Business Tenancy or Grazing Licence.
Applicants for equipped holdings must submit an 'expression of interest' form. If shortlisted, the next step is to provide a business plan and budgets, including gross margins, projected 3 year cash flows and a rent tender. Financial and personal references are required. Applicants may be visited at their current home/place of work in advance of the interview. At interview there are usually three Hampshire County Council representatives, including the Countryside & Rural Estates Manager, a Rural Surveyor and, where possible, a County Councillor with agriculture and rural affairs experience.
The following will be considered by the interview panel:
- Sound agricultural technical knowledge and relevant practical farming experience (5 years, which can include formal agricultural training or agricultural college/university education)
- Demonstrable business acumen, including matters that might impact upon their business. A sound working knowledge of cash flows, budgets, health and safety, grant funding, agricultural and environmental legislation
- Access to funding required to start up a farming enterprise, including ingoings for the holding and purchase of livestock, machinery, grain. The amount of funding will vary from farm to farm
- Enthusiasm for, and dedication to, the agricultural industry and sustainable, innovative farming
- Entrepreneurial spirit and willingness to explore diversification and other business opportunities
- Pragmatism, flexibility and drive