Four tenant farming priorities for the next Westminster government

The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) is focussing on four key areas that it wants the next UK government to deliver, to support and enhance the resilience of the tenanted sector of agriculture.

TFA National Chair, Robert Martin, said, “A general election is always a good time for a policy reset. It is also an important opportunity to test the candidates vying for the farming vote on what their priorities are going to be if they get the opportunity to sit on those famous green benches and potentially form part of the next government. In listening to the views of the TFA membership, we have identified four key areas of concern.”

The four priorities identified by the TFA are as follows:

  • Committing to implementing all the recommendations of the Rock Review into agricultural tenancies
  • Delivering fairness within food and agricultural supply chains with better returns to farmers and growers
  • Using our post Brexit freedoms to enhance the quantity and value of our agricultural exports and paring back on unnecessary regulation
  • Seeking a more appropriate balance between achieving food, environmental and energy security

Mr Martin said, “The report from the Rock Review into agricultural tenancies provides a ready-made template for the next government in terms of policy towards agricultural tenancies. Whether it is about the design of new government schemes, changes to legislation, the taxation environment within which tenant farming operates, or the way in which disputes are handled, there is no need to reinvent the wheel.

“Whilst good progress has been made under the current government, there is still much to achieve including the establishment of the Tenant Farming Commissioner in the autumn, as announced in the Farm to Fork Summit.

“Equally, there are areas where the current government has dropped the ball that the next administration must take forward, including in respect of changes to Agricultural Property Relief to encourage longer tenancies.

“Farmers and growers are not subsidy junkies. They would much rather their businesses thrive based on fair market returns. There is enough evidence to show that there is market failure in food supply chains in this country and we need a government that is committed to ensuring that those market failures are addressed. Up to now, we have been tinkering around the edges. A more fundamental regulatory approach, focusing on an expanded role for the Groceries Code Adjudicator is needed.

“To date, we have made scant use of our post Brexit freedoms including to enhance our trading position as an exporting country and in removing unnecessary regulations. So far, we have only scratched the surface of the benefits that could be achieved from taking full control of the levers that influence our trade, policy and domestic legislation.

We need a bold government willing to set aside old EU playbooks, that seem to dog much of the Whitehall approach, to achieve much, much more.

“We have seen too much emphasis on taking land out of agricultural production for tree planting, rewilding, solar energy, biodiversity net gain and schemes to achieve nutrient neutrality for housebuilders.

“Farmers and growers have a unique ability to deliver high quality food and significant benefits for the environment, including the sequestration and storage of vast amounts of carbon.”

Mr Martin concluded, “The anti-meat, anti-dairy and anti-farming agendas that have been driving large areas of policy need to be reined in to achieve a much more balanced and pragmatic platform to produce the food, environmental and energy security we need.”


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