Farm Tenants Must Not Be Disenfranchised by New Farm Policy in Wales

The Tenant Farmers Association in Wales (TFA Cymru) has submitted its response to the Welsh Government’s “Brexit and our Land” consultation, warning that an important prerequisite for any new policy framework will be reform to agricultural tenancy legislation.

TFA Cymru Chairman, Dennis Matheson, said “The Welsh Government is to be congratulated on its level of engagement with the farming industry and other rural interests since the EU referendum vote in June 2016. At almost every meeting with Welsh Government representatives, I have raised the urgent need for reform of tenancy legislation and I was pleased to see it raised as a question in the consultation paper. However, we now need to move fast towards making the changes we need.”

Many agricultural tenancies in Wales will contain clauses which require farm tenants to use their holdings for agricultural use only. This would preclude many from engaging in schemes for wider public good delivery under a new environmental land management scheme. Also, many tenancy agreements will preclude tenants from investing in new fixed equipment on their holdings or adding to or improving existing fixed equipment or even entering schemes without the consent of their landlords. This could make life difficult for tenants wishing to take part in the proposed new Economic Resilience Scheme.

“Although TFA Cymru works to enhance good landlord tenant relationships, sadly there are too many instances where landlords, particularly of secure tenants, are more concerned about trying to regain vacant possession of their let land than working constructively with their tenants. Our concern is that we will see landlords refuse consent on an unreasonable basis and there is little that tenants can do to prevent that,” said Mr Matheson.

TFA Cymru has responded to the Welsh Government’s consultation by flagging up the recommendations made by the cross-organisational Tenancy Reform Industry Group (TRIG) at the invitation of DEFRA a year ago. As agricultural tenancy legislation is a devolved matter, these recommendations can be picked up and implemented by the Welsh Government.

“We have included in our consultation response suggested clauses that the Welsh Government could look at to bring forward the necessary legislation to make the changes we need. These spring from what has previously been agreed by TRIG and we will encourage the Welsh Government to look at these both constructively and urgently,” said Mr Matheson.

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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.