The Tenant Farmers Association has today published its “2020 Vision” for agriculture from the perspective of the tenanted sector of agriculture in England and Wales.
The vision document covers a wide range of issues including the importance of the tenanted sector in agriculture, the operation of agri-environment and rural development schemes, future CAP reform, the importance of County Council Smallholdings, the development of a properly functioning "farming ladder” and management of our uplands.
TFA National Chairman Greg Bliss said “The vision document is the culmination of a long period of discussion with our members and reflection on the future needs of our farming industry together with the wider public interest. We have set out a clear policy agenda for change taking into consideration the needs of the tenanted sector and the tenant farmers who, day by day, farm and manage at least 30% of the agricultural area of England and Wales".
"Given the size and importance of the tenanted sector I continue to be disappointed by the apparent lack of understanding about the tenanted sector in agriculture amongst policymakers both at home and in Europe. Those who develop policies for agriculture unconsciously assume that all farmers are owner occupiers and are able to make their own decisions about how to respond to Government schemes and initiatives. However, for those of us farming as tenants, the decisions we make take place in a more complex environment involving tenancy legislation, the tenancy agreement in place and the ongoing relationship with the owner of the land we farm. Our “2020 Vision” document will provide policymakers with a clear understanding of this complex environment and how they should address this as they develop new policies and review those currently in place”, said Mr Bliss.
“The days when the main concerns of the tenant farmer were dominated by rent are long gone. With the rapid development of land use, agricultural and environmental policies there is now a plethora of issues for tenant farmers to consider which their owner occupied neighbours can happily ignore. The tenanted sector has a key role to play in the development of the agricultural industry going forward. It is therefore vital that the right policies are put in place to ensure that it can meet the challenges ahead”, said Mr Bliss.
Summary of the TFA’s 2020 Vision for Agriculture from the Perspective of the Tenanted Sector of Agriculture in England and Wales
• All associated with the development and implementation of agricultural, land use and environmental policies should understand the unique framework within which tenant farmers operate and respond to policy.
• The importance of the tenanted sector in agriculture to the public interest is both appreciated and fully taken into consideration in policy development for agriculture.
• Agricultural landlords should be looking to develop lasting relationships with their tenants through long-term, flexible tenancy agreements.
• Agricultural tenancies should be the preferred way to manage land owned by one party and farmed by another.
• Agri-environment and rural development schemes should be tailored to ensure that participation is only by those who are actively managing the land on a day-to-day basis.
• County Council smallholding estates should be valued by individual local authorities and the nation as a whole as vital to the sustainability of providing a viable entry point and ongoing development for those seeking a career in agriculture.
• Farm diversification should not be a barrier to succession of tenancy within traditional tenancies of holdings let under the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986.
• Food security considerations should be at least as important as those for climate change in the development of new policy.
• There should be a fair balance of power between producers, processors and retailers in the food chain to ensure that no sector is dominated by others.
• There should no longer be any bar on public money being used for applied research and development within agriculture, food technology and land management.
• The Common Agricultural Policy should retain a focus for ensuring that it is supporting the livelihoods of working farmers whilst providing a framework for food and environmental security.
• There should be a new framework for ensuring sustainable development of upland areas with support focused on re-establishing ruminant livestock production as the cornerstone of land management for these fragile areas.
• Animal health policy should be conducted within a true partnership framework between Government and industry without the Government seeking to pass its legitimate cost obligations onto the industry which already has its own costs to bear.
• Adequate attention needs to be given to ensure that the farming ladder is operating effectively with opportunities for entry, development and retirement with dignity.
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