The next government’s new domestic agricultural policies must enable the tenanted sector to play a full role in building a more sustainable, competitive and profitable future for British farming, the NFU said today.
The NFU Tenants Conference, held in Cambridgeshire this week, heard that tenant farming already contributes significantly to agricultural output in this country but could do more if the right policies are in place.
NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts said: “Tenant farmers are a vital part of the farming sector, covering around 30% of farmed land in England and Wales and offering a route into farming for those outside of the industry.
“I hope today’s discussions on issues such as tenancy reform will provide a catalyst for the action that the sector needs - providing stability for both landowners and tenants and boosting productivity.
“It’s essential that any policy framework for agricultural tenancies is fit for the future and that post-Brexit, tenant farmers are able to access any new agricultural and land management schemes as we move away from the Common Agricultural Policy once the UK leaves the EU. Such schemes must help to improve competitiveness and sustainability within the sector and allow tenant farmers to invest in their businesses.
“We also call on the next government to support County Council farm estates – some of which have been sold off due to a lack of investment. These farms serve an important role in allowing that first foot on the ladder for new entrants.
“Above all, we must encourage the next generation of farmers who have the skills and talent needed to thrive in the future, so we are able to continue to provide the nation with a trusted supply of safe, traceable and affordable food while caring for the iconic British countryside.”
NFU tenants’ forum chairman Chris Cardell said: “There has been long term work in our sector which must continue. The NFU successfully lobbied government to reconvene the Tenancy Reform Industry Group (TRIG) three years ago, and we want to continue working with the next government to prioritise this important work.
“Looking to the near future, any payment schemes, and especially those concerned with environmental delivery, must be accessible for all farmers and allow them to continue to farm profitably.”