Tenants are demanding policy change from the next government

The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) has outlined four key priorities for the next Westminster Government to support and strengthen the resilience of the tenant farming sector.

TFA national chair Robert Martin stressed the importance of a policy reset during the general election and the opportunity to gauge candidates’ commitment to agriculture issues.

“By listening to TFA members, we have identified four key areas of concern,” he said.

These areas include:

  • Implementing recommendations from the Rock Review into agricultural tenancies;
  • Ensuring fairness in food and agricultural supply chains;
  • Increasing agricultural exports after Brexit while limiting unnecessary regulations;
  • Balance between food, environmental and energy security.

According to Martin, the Rock Review’s recommendations provide a comprehensive policy template for the next government.

This includes the design of new government programs, legislative changes, tax adjustments and improved dispute resolution mechanisms.

Further progress is needed

Martin hailed the appointment of a land leasing commissioner as a positive step, but stressed the need for further progress, particularly on farm property relief, to encourage longer leases.

He also called for fair market profits for tenants and planters.

“Farmers and breeders are not subsidy junkies. “There is enough evidence to demonstrate market failures in food supply chains in this country,” he said.

“There is enough evidence to show that there are market failures in food supply chains in this country and we need a government committed to working hard to address these market failures.

“So far we have been tinkering around the edges. A more fundamental regulatory approach is needed, focusing on an expanded role for the Food Code Adjudicator.”

“We need a brave government”

Martin said there had been “little use” of post-Brexit freedoms so far, including use to strengthen the country’s trading position as an exporting country and to remove “unnecessary regulations”.

“So far we have only scratched the surface of the benefits that could be achieved by taking full control of the levers that influence our trade, politics and national legislation,” he said.

“We need a brave government that puts aside the old EU playbooks, which seem to largely mimic the Whitehall approach, to achieve much, much more.”

Finally, Martin criticized policies that prioritize non-agricultural land uses such as tree planting, rewilding, and solar energy.

He stressed the need for a sustainable approach that recognizes the dual role of farmers in producing high-quality food and providing environmental benefits, including carbon sequestration.

“We have seen too much emphasis on taking land out of agricultural production for tree planting, rewilding, solar energy, biodiversity net gains and programs to achieve nutrient neutrality for home builders,” he said.

“Farmers and ranchers have a unique ability to provide high-quality food and significant environmental benefits, including sequestering and storing enormous amounts of carbon.”