Still searching after 18 years

News Posted 01/10/18
West Sussex smallholder Alex Moss is disappointed after being turned down for the fifteenth time on a farm tenancy a few weeks ago.

“I was very angry but I have calmed down a bit now,” said Mr Moss, who runs a 25 acre smallholding at Flansham which has cattle, pigs and poultry. With his wife, Mr Moss has spent the best part of 18 years trying to find a suitable tenancy so that he can move on.

“There is so much demand from young people that want to go farming but the opportunities are not out there,” said Mr Moss who is 39 and feels time is running out. “There is not enough land in the South East to fulfil all our dreams and opportunities.”

He is not from a farming background and so cannot rely on his parents to inherit land. “A well known land agent told me there will be opportunities after Brexit because farmers won’t want to continue with the basic payment scheme. But that could be five or six years down the line, and at 39 I feel time is something which I haven’t got.” With his wife, he has looked at mainly county council farm tenancies from Barnstaple in Devon all the way up to Staffordshire and back down to local authorities closer to home in the South East. The last farm was on the West Sussex/Surrey border – but although he put in a tender, Mr Moss never had a reply from the landlord or his agent. “I appreciate there is a shortage of land and a large number of possible tenants, but the communication and social skills shown by land agents are often very poor. Something needs to be done about this.”

The farm was “lovely” with a lot of potential, said Mr Moss. “The existing tenant had come up to retirement and got out. I had lots of plans for it, but eventually it went to a friend of the landlord’s family.”

Mr Moss estimates that over the years, he has spent between £12,000 and £14,000 trying to find a tenancy. “And yet I have nothing to show for it,” he said. His wife, too, has been involved in driving long distances, staying in hotels and paying land agents to try to secure a farm.

He is a full time sales representative with the Denis Brinicombe Group which specialises in livestock nutrition. “With a full time job, I can guarantee to pay the rent. I am from the livestock sector, and feel I would be a suitable candidate for a 100-plus acre farm with some buildings.” He has taught animal husbandry and other subjects to students aged between 14 and 21 at Brinsbury College; he has sold livestock and deadstock at Hailsham weekly market; and he has graded livestock for slaughter and then butchered carcasses and made sausages from them. “I want to go farming,” Mr Moss exclaimed. ”I have two young sons, and I want to make a future for them.”

Anyone who can help Mr Moss should send an email to alexmoss53@gmail.com


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