Conference to discuss new opportunities needed for tenant farming sector

16 April 2024

Tenants Conference event listing

Creating opportunities for tenant farmers in a changing farming landscape is the theme of a national conference being hosted by the NFU today.

With more than 60% of England’s farmed area managed by tenant farmers, industry leaders, experts, institutional landlords and tenant farming members will come together at NFU Stoneleigh Headquarters to discuss the future of the sector at the NFU’s Tenants Conference being chaired by NFU Deputy President David Exwood and attended by Farming Minister Sir Mark Spencer.

NFU Deputy President David Exwood said: “Tenant farmers are some of the most dynamic and forward-thinking farmers I know. I am a tenant farmer myself and we play a vital role in producing food for the nation while delivering the government’s environmental targets, helping to grow the rural economy and being at the heart of rural communities.

“Just like all other sectors, tenant farmers across the country are feeling the squeeze; the cumulative loss of direct payments over the past four years and the slow transition to the Environmental Land Management scheme (ELMs), together with high input costs have created real cashflow issues. However, as tenants we don’t often have the financial capital to pivot to embrace new opportunities in the same way as non-tenant farmers, which leaves us particularly vulnerable.

“Now we are dealing with the immense pressure of what the adverse weather is throwing at us, with months of non-stop rain and some of the worst flooding on record, causing further financial and mental wellbeing concerns.

“Over the past few weeks we have seen the rollout of the Farm Tenancy Forum and actions and recommendations from the Rock Review being implemented. The NFU played a significant role in campaigning for the Agricultural Landlord and Tenant Code of Practice which also launched recently. Its aim is to help foster fairness, address poor conduct but also highlight good practice and provide a good basis for ongoing tenant-landlord relationships – but to make meaningful impact it will need to be adhered to by all parties.

“With a fantastic line-up of speakers, including the Farming Minister in attendance, I have no doubt today’s Conference will generate much needed debate and discussion on the important issues impacting tenant farmer members.  For example, it is crucial now that government ensures its new farming schemes work for tenant farmers. Progress has been made on SFI but as more options become available, we have to make sure tenant farmers aren’t disadvantaged, particularly in the uplands, to ensure it delivers for both government ambitions and for tenant farmers across England.

“By working together, we can and must create new opportunities for tenant farmers which will help us to deliver a robust, vibrant, and thriving agricultural tenanted sector for the future.”


Notes to editor:

  1. The NFU Tenants Conference 2024 is being held on Tuesday 16 April.
  2. The line-up of speakers and agenda can be found here.