The environment secretary has announced that an independent review will be undertaken, to review how tenant farmers and tenancies can be better supported as English agriculture looks to reach sustainability targets.
The Tenancy Working Group will provide tenant farmers and associated stakeholders with an opportunity to ensure the new environmental land management schemes will work for agricultural tenancies also.
Aims of the group, chaired by Baroness Kate Rock, will be to provide independent advice to Defra, to include:
- How Defra can use scheme design to facilitate participation of benefits to tenant farmers in new government ELMs and related schemes
- Consideration of what policy initiatives will secure the long-term sustainability of tenant farming in England
- How to best foster positive and long-term relationships between tenants and landlords
- Providing advice on how to minimise potential loss of tenanted land – to avoid damaging its resilience
- • Discussions of why it might be necessary to look for new legislative or regulatory powers in the future
As policy moves away from the arbitrary land-based subsidies and top-down bureaucracy of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, new package schemes, that support farmers in their roles as both food producers and stewards of the natural environment, will be introduced.
With these aims in mind, the Tenancy Working Group will publish a report later this year, setting out its main conclusions and set of recommendations for Defra, in relation to the new schemes.
The NFU has responded to the announcement, with the NFU tenants forum chairman, Chris Cardell saying: “This announcement is absolutely welcomed as it is critical that tenant farmers create a secure and sustainable future for their own businesses.”
However, while the main objectives identified by the working group encompass many of the anxieties expressed by NFU members, the NFU “still has significant concerns.”
“It is unacceptable to expect tenant farmers to make significant, long-term decisions now about the future of their businesses, while multiple barriers remain unaddressed within new government schemes that are portrayed as a replacement for direct payments,” concluded Mr Cardell.