UK government sets out plans to help tenant farmers

(Alliance News) - Farmers in the UK who rent their land will be given greater support with new ...

Alliance News 24 May, 2023 | 4:56PM
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(Alliance News) - Farmers in the UK who rent their land will be given greater support with new environmental management schemes, a minister has said.

Farming minister Mark Spencer set out plans to "remove any remaining barriers" that tenant farmers face to accessing new agricultural schemes aimed at rewarding farmers for environmentally-minded land management.

Spencer told the Commons the government will create a Farm Tenancy Forum, will publish a new industry-led code of practice for agricultural tenancy agreements and will launch a call for evidence on the proposed tenant farming commissioner.

Together, the proposals are intended to help tenant farmers access the government's environmental land management schemes, which are being phased in to replace the EU-backed system of farm subsidies following Brexit.

The minister announced the government's plans in response to the Rock Review, which recommended a series of changes to help tenant farmers access the new schemes and maintain better relationships with landowners.

Making a statement in the Commons, Spencer said: "We agree that tenant voices must be heard in the development of government policies, and remove any remaining barriers to accessing our farming schemes.

"That's why today we're announcing the new Farm Tenancy Forum, which will improve the way we communicate with the sector and help us make our schemes as accessible as possible to tenants."

He added: "We are also pleased to announce that the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors has come forward to lead within its public interest remit on the development of a code of practice, collaborating with industry bodies on expected standards of socially responsible behaviour for all parties involved in agricultural tenancy agreements.

"The review also recommended examining the potential need for an independent tenant farming commissioner or ombudsman for England and in response, we'll be launching a call for evidence this summer to explore the benefits and impacts of how this might work in practice and how this role might fit within existing procedures and regulations."

Spencer concluded his speech, saying: "The government supports tenant farmers because it's one of the best routes to bring new people into the sector."

Shadow environment minister Daniel Zeichner called on the minister to set out whether the government would be adopting all the recommendations of the review, which was led by Conservative peer Kate Rock.

The Labour frontbencher said: "While we are pleased to see the response at last, we are slightly disappointed that it has taken a rather piecemeal approach and perhaps the minister could start by telling us how many of the 74 recommendations the government has chosen to adopt?"

Spencer replied: "As this process has been ongoing, we have been liaising with Baroness Rock and the tenancy working group, making sure that we are listening to their recommendations, making sure as we design the new schemes under Elms that we are taking into consideration their recommendations during that ongoing process.

"Lots of the things in this report we have already adopted and already taken onboard, and of course we will consider further items as we move forward."

By David Lynch and Martina Bet, PA

Press Association: News

source: PA

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