Farming in Cornwall

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Council Farms Service

The Council Farms Service manages the council farms estate and provides advice to the Council on agricultural matters. 

The Council first acquired agricultural property in 1908 to create smallholdings. Today the Council owns around 4370.60 hectares (10,800 acres) used for the present Council Farms Service made up of 91 holdings. 

Download the Farms Estate Strategy 2019-2039

The Estate

The Estate, which is managed under statutory smallholdings provisions, currently extends to approximately 4370.60 hectares (10,800 acres), split into 91 holdings.

The holdings are let as equipped farms, which in this context means that the tenancy includes land, farm buildings and dwelling house.  Buildings are suitable for the farming of the holding, although tenants may add to these with their own investment.  The tenant provides the livestock, machinery and other fixtures and fittings necessary to run the farm.

Holdings prior to 1995 were let on a mixture of lifetime and working life tenancies.  All holdings let since 1995 are let on fixed term farm business tenancies.

The Council Farms 

The farms on the estate are split into several categories.  The main distinctions are between stock and dairy farms. Typically stock rearing farms will be in the region of 70 to 120 acres and in the current climate are not expected to be the tenant's sole or main source of income.  Larger stock rearing farms are usually in excess of 150 acres.

Smaller dairy farms are let with a target of 80 acres of land and 300,000 litres of milk quota, while the larger dairy farms have over 100 acres with 400,000 litres of milk quota. Dairy farming is still the predominant business activity on the estate, accounting for 56% of the holdings.

In addition to traditional stock and dairy farms the estate has several smallholdings of about 20 acres which are let for rural business opportunities such as equestrian and horticulture.

History of Council Farms

Following the introduction of the Smallholdings and Allotments Act 1908, the Council purchased 3,000 acres by 1914. By 1926 the Council had purchased 11,000 acres.

Agriculture Act 1947

  • Retain rural workforce
  • Create the farming ladder

Agriculture Act 1970

  • Reorganise and modernise
  • A gateway into farming 

Into the future...

  • Contributing to sustainable agriculture
  • Improving social, environmental and economic wellbeing

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