Warm words no substitute for affirmative action

The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) has demanded the Government moves quickly to rectify its failure to address much needed changes to the legislative framework for agricultural tenancies.

TFA Chief Executive, George Dunn said, “The Agriculture Bill was the obvious place to include the recommendations for legislative change presented to Government last autumn by the Tenancy Reform Industry Group (TRIG). Instead, frustratingly at this time, DEFRA officials have only promised a consultation on possible changes. The TFA is appealing for an absolute commitment from the Government for new legislation rather than further warm words”.

The TFA’s disappointment is compounded by the fact that DEFRA specifically asked for the advice and recommendations of TRIG on what changes would be needed to assist the tenanted sector of agriculture in the post-Brexit, economic environment.

“To ask for recommendations and then to do nothing with them is illogical. We must have Government amendments to the Agriculture Bill to plug this gap or a commitment to an early, agricultural tenancies Bill,” said Mr Dunn.

The TFA is also submitting its representations to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP, in advance of this year’s autumn budget statement.

“The Government has challenged the farming industry to achieve greater levels of productivity. The tenanted sector of agriculture accepts that challenge but needs the Government to play its part by bringing forward essential changes to tenancy legislation and taxation of land,” said Mr Dunn.

One of the TFA’s keystone recommendations is to encourage landlords to offer longer term farm business tenancies by restricting existing Inheritance Tax Agricultural Property Relief available for let agricultural land, only to those landlords prepared to let for 10 years or more.

“The fact that 85% of all farm business tenancies are let for 5 years or less is no basis for a sustainable tenanted sector. The taxation system should not be rewarding landlords taking a short-term approach and providing little benefit to society. Farm tenants need long-term security to meet the Government’s aspiration of ensuring a continuing supply of quality food produced to high animal welfare and environmental standards whilst, at the same time, delivering wider environmental and societal benefits.”

“Our representations focus on the need for reform within the taxation environment to encourage longer and more sustainable farm tenancies. Again, for many years, there has been much talk about the need for taxation reform but very little action to effect real change. Reform in this area is considerably overdue,” said Mr Dunn.

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About The Author

John Swire - Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.