DEFRA clean air strategy must work for all farmers

The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) is reminding DEFRA that it needs to understand the unique challenges facing tenant and other farmers who do not own the land they farm in delivering its Clean Air Strategy.

TFA Farm Policy Adviser, Lynette Steel, said “it is really important that the Government continues to consult with the agriculture industry as it seeks to implement its Clean Air Strategy announced today. Following last year’s consultation, the TFA advised the Government not to move too quickly in implementing new legislation from a standing start. Whilst we welcome the commitment to support the industry in making necessary changes to improve fixed equipment and techniques, the Government does need to understand that those farmers who do not own the land upon which they run their businesses will require access to specific advice and support.”

On many tenanted holdings, the fixed equipment is owned by and is the responsibility of the landowner. Any requirement to upgrade or improve fixed equipment must provide a mechanism to allow tenants and other types of farmer occupying land that they do not own, to oblige their landlords to carry out any necessary work of repair, upgrade or new investment.

“There is no doubt that the agriculture industry must play it’s part in helping to reduce emissions however actions outlined in the strategy must not be imposed in a way which causes specific difficulty for the tenanted sector of agriculture. More widely, it is important that the Government’s actions do not have a detrimental impact on farm competitiveness, especially in these uncertain times,” said Lynette.

The grant aid being offered to assist with the necessary upgrading of fixed equipment is welcomed but the TFA believes that tenants may not be able to access this funding due to restrictions within their tenancy agreements.

“We have highlighted this issue in our lobbying around the Agriculture Bill, currently awaiting Report Stage in the House of Commons. We have tabled an amendment which would allow farm tenants restricted by their tenancy agreements to have a mechanism to force the issue with their landlords. To date we have not had a response from DEFRA to the amendments we have suggested. However, we hope that MPs will vote in favour of amending the Bill to ensure the tenants are not disenfranchised in any new grant making regime,” says Lynette.

The TFA has also welcomed the links that are being made between the implementation of the clean air strategy and other environmental strategies such as water management.

“We support this joined up thinking. The TFA would like to see the Government addressing these issues as part of a plan led approach implemented farm by farm to ensure the maximum benefit through investment in what each farm needs rather than forcing the acceptance of standardised solutions pushed through high-level schemes,” said Lynette.

“There are some quick win actions published in today’s strategy however others will need further consideration before implementation, including how the new regime impacts upon the tenanted sector of agriculture,” said Lynette.

 

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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.