The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) has published its main priorities for the next Government following the General Election. Chief executive, George Dunn, said “As we head towards the third UK General Election in five years agriculture, will once again, feature heavily in the policies of all the Political Parties. Whether it is about animal welfare, climate change, health and well-being, environmental standards or obesity, there will be much to say about the role that agriculture has to play in meeting the challenges we face in all these important areas. The central issue with which the new Government must grapple is to find a way for UK farming to continue to deliver safe, high quality food produced to high standards of animal welfare and environmental management at prices consumers can afford, whilst providing a sustainable return to the farming community”.
In light of this, key asks of the TFA include the following:
• Achieving continued frictionless access to the European market for UK food and agricultural products post resolution of Brexit.
• Allowing good access to migrant labour for the agricultural and food processing sectors both on a seasonal and semi-permanent basis, while Government and industry work towards enhancing the ability to meet labour requirements from domestic sources into the long term.
• Protection from trade in food and agricultural products from other parts of the globe which do not meet the standards of food safety, animal welfare and environmental considerations required by law of UK production.
• A tariff schedule which ensures all domestic agricultural sectors are protected from being undermined by cheaper imports.
• Development of a new agricultural policy correcting for market failures within food and agricultural supply chains and for the provision of public goods and services with fair access to tenant farmers.
“The next Government must also grasp the nettle to introduce measures to change the fiscal environment within which rural landlords decide to let land to encourage longer term Farm Business Tenancies. The tenanted sector cannot begin to consider issues of resilience and sustainability when average lengths of term on new tenancies are consistently below four years and more recently below 3 years,” said Mr Dunn.
Tax changes the TFA wants the new Government to introduce include:
• Restricting the generous, 100% Agricultural Property Relief from Inheritance Tax (currently available to all agricultural landlords, regardless of the length of time for which they are prepared to let land) only to those landlords prepared to let farmland for 10 years or more.
• Clamping down on those landowners who, through schemes promoted by agents and accountants, are using share farming, contract farming, share partnerships and grazing licences as thin veneers of trading activity and as vehicles for aggressive tax avoidance where they take no risk in the business, have little, if any, entrepreneurial input and lack any management control.
• Offering landlords prepared to let farmland for 10 years or more the ability to declare their income as if it was trading income for taxation purposes.
• Reforming Stamp Duty Land Tax to end the discrimination against longer farm tenancies.