The Rock Review – NFU writes to the Farming Minister

06 January 2023

An image of NFU Vice President David Exwood stood in a field

NFU Vice President David Exwood has written to Farming Minister Mark Spencer to urge government to act on the recommendations of the Rock Review into agricultural tenancies, or risk leaving tenant farmers at a severe disadvantage.

The Rock Review was undertaken to investigate how tenant farmers could be better supported to ensure a resilient agricultural tenanted sector for the future.

In his letter, David highlighted how crucial tenant farmers are to securing food security and environmental targets, and cites the NFU's strong support for agricultural tenants to have full access to Defra's agricultural transition measures.

Real areas of concern

In his letter, David said the review’s recommendations pinpointed “real areas of concern that if not addressed by government in the near term, will see tenant farmers severely disadvantaged in terms of access to government schemes, preserving and growing their businesses”.

Without a change in the government’s approach to the tenanted sector “the government will not be able to deliver on its vision for a robust, vibrant, and thriving agricultural tenanted sector for the future,” David warned.

“Tenant farmers are crucial to securing the food security and environmental outcomes we all want to see.”

NFU Vice President David Exwood

Read the recommendations: GOV.UK | The Rock Review: summary and recommendations

Equal opportunity

David set out the NFU’s position on the nature of tenancy agreements, expressing the NFU’s agreement that Defra’s focus should be on “eligibility and flexibility”.

Allowing more flexibility would be a simple way to remove barriers for entry to the sector and encourage greater participation, David explains.

While David emphasised that “collaboration is key” between tenants and landlords, he warned that “Defra must not rely on this as the only solution to the problems that the sector is now facing”.

David also addressed legislative reform and the current obstacles to how tree planting and agroforestry is managed.

A holistic approach

David concludes his letter by encouraging government to implement the recommendations put forward by the Rock Review: “The Rock Review and the Report is an exceptionally important piece of work. It has been consulted on and considered widely across the NFU and with our members.

“It provides a clear case to policy makers to recognise and include the tenanted sector in policy development by integrating these recommendations and considering how they should be implemented not only for the good of tenant farmers, but for the farming industry as a whole. Only then will we achieve a truly holistic approach that supports the long-term resilience of the sector and delivers on food production and environmental goals.”

Read the letter in full: NFU Vice President David Exwood writes to the Farming Minister in response to the Rock Review.

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