Yesterday (24 May), the government published a range of measures to support tenant farmers and help provide long-term sustainability for the tenant farming sector in its response to the independent Rock Review. This was covered in outlets including Farming Today, Farmers Guide, Morning Star, Farmers Weekly and AgriLand, with The National Farmers Union (NFU), Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) and Baroness Rock also responding to the government’s announcement.
The measures agree with the review’s key recommendations and include a new Farm Tenancy Forum which will work to consider the unique challenges facing the sector, facilitate more collaborative relationships between landlords and tenants, and help to shape farming policy. This will be co-chaired by Julian Sayers and will provide regular feedback to government, strengthening Defra’s relationship with the sector.
The Government will also launch a Call for Evidence this summer on the proposal for a Tenant Farming Commissioner in England, considering the benefits this could bring and how it might work in practice.
Today’s announcement comes alongside the government’s ongoing support for tenant farmers and the agricultural sector. This includes more than £168 million in grants being made available to farmers this year to drive innovation, support food production, improve animal health and welfare and protect the environment, as well as accelerating the roll out of the Sustainable Farming Incentive. More recently, the second round of Landscape Recovery was launched last week to support up to 25 more projects to protect and restore thousands of acres of the English landscape.
Farming Minister Mark Spencer said:
I’d like to thank Baroness Rock and her team for their work on the review which underlined the vital importance of the tenant farming sector and the action needed to help it thrive.
At the centre of her review was a call for tenant voices to be heard by government and that we remove barriers to accessing our farming scheme.
That’s what we’re delivering – both through the measures announced today and in the progress that we have made over recent months, and I look forward to working with the tenanted sector to help make sure we’re delivering on their priorities into the future.
Baroness Kate Rock said:
I welcome the Government’s commitment to the agricultural tenanted sector and its willingness to focus on how the objectives of the Rock Review can be delivered.
I would, however, have liked the response to fully recognise all the findings of the Review, in particular regarding the increase in new clauses being inserted into Farm Business Tenancies, and on tenants engaging in diversified activities. Whilst I welcome the new Farm Tenancy Forum, this must be focused on implementing the findings of the Review to be successful.
I would like to thank the Secretary of State, the Farming Minster and DEFRA for their proactive engagement throughout the Rock Review and their commitment to work together for a thriving agricultural tenanted sector.