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Considering the farm's potential

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: January 30, 2014

  • TENANCY: The house and approach at Lower Northchurch Farm.

  • VISIT: Jerry Brook.

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THE recent turnaround in dairy herd prospects was reflected in the interest shown by some of the people viewing Lower Northchurch.

Although the farm has no milking parlour potential candidates were considering how to make a dairy enterprise out of the tenancy.

"It would depend how much it would cost to put a parlour in here and it's a bit short of cubicle space," said 46-year-old Mike Avery, who farms near Torrington, and who was assessing prospects with his daughter, 17-year-old Charlotte and his brother, Adrian, 42.

The family's business is in sheep and beef and some arable crops, but Mike explained that their holding was not big enough to stand alone.

Adrian echoed the thoughts of other hopefuls who were remarking on the cost of getting into farming now compared with even a few years ago: "It's very expensive now, especially with the price of dairy cows."

Charlotte already works on a dairy farm and has a twin brother with the same commercial interest: "It would be a family concern," she said.

Both the chairman of the farms estate committee, Jerry Brook, and his vice-chairman, Councillor Caroline Chugg were there to talk to the interested visitors.

Jerry said: "I want to be able to relate the business plans of each applicant to the farm, and they will need to relate to the conditions of the tenancy they're applying for.

"You're looking at around £100,000 of investment.

"Most people who come and view a farm that we can offer have had a plan in their minds for a long time and have been building towards that plan.

"The last tranche of tenants we interviewed were absolutely fantastic, full of business acumen, enthusiasm and different experiences.

"The tenants usually come in as a couple, probably both in work, and one can carry on working, gaining capital, while still farming. They're earning money, and you don't have to spend it."

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