A baseline study of the effects of the Single Farm Payment on the diversification activities of tenant farmers

B. Ilbery, D. Maye, David Charles Hunter Watts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The introduction of Single Farm Payments (SFP) under the 2003 reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is likely to affect the diversification activities of tenant farmers in England in a number of ways. Thus, there is a need for baseline research on both current and intended diversification activities pending such reforms. This paper provides such a baseline by conducting a national postal survey of different types of tenant farmer and their diversification behaviour in different regions across England.
Design/Methodology/Approach: A postal questionnaire was sent to a representative sample of tenant farmers across England, stratified by Government Office region, type of tenure and whether farmers are located in either severely disadvantaged areas (SDA) or non- SDA areas. A database comprising 252 variables was created from the returned questionnaires and analysed to identify key trends.
Findings: The key finding to emerge from the survey of tenant farmers relates to the high levels of uncertainty and negativity surrounding the potential impacts of CAP reforms, and SFP in particular, on farm business behaviour. Tenant farmers are currently more concerned about levels of SFP and issues surrounding entitlement than they are with any future investment decisions, including those relating to diversification activities. Over two thirds (70.3%) of the surveyed farmers have already diversified, but only 1 in 6 mentioned diversification in their future plans.
Implications: Twin processes of consolidation (fewer and larger farm businesses) and diversification are likely to lead to a blurring between the ‘tenanted’ and ‘owneroccupied’ farming sectors in the future. Further and more detailed, qualitative research is needed on landlord-tenant relationships in both SDA and non-SDA regions characterised by different farming systems.
Originality/Value: The research provides a new and original baseline on the diversification activities of different types of tenant farmer across England and how these might change in response to the reforms of the CAP.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-18
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Rural Enterprise and Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • farm diversification
  • tenancy
  • Single farm payments
  • CAP reforms


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