The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) has said that farmers the length and breadth of England need clarity on the way ahead for future government policy for agriculture and the farmed environment.

TFA chief executive, George Dunn, said:

"Ever since the result of the June 2016 EU Referendum, we have listened to successive Defra [The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] secretaries of state, talking up the opportunities to be grasped for UK agriculture in the post EU world.

"Although the February 2018 Health and Harmony document set out the semblance of a plan, it feels like we have been marking time ever since.

The end of our transitional arrangements with the EU is fast approaching and the government is keen to move away from the old ways of doing things under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) from early next year.

"Without a clear plan it’s nigh on impossible for farmers to take the long view."

Defra plan delays

Dunn continued:

"Defra had previously indicated that it would set out its plans in July this year, that then moved to September and more recently to November.

However, now that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is limiting his Spending Review to just one year, we worry that the much needed detail of the seven-year transitional period for farm policy envisaged by the government will remain hidden from view.

"We understand that the political stalemate around Brexit, which dogged Theresa May’s government, and the huge expense of effort in having to deal with Covid-19 has limited the capacity of the government to deliver a clear plan.

"This is why the TFA and others argued for a pause to allow for a further year, before we saw any change in the farm support environment.

This is not about clinging to the past but ensuring that we give ourselves enough time and space to deliver a truly ground-breaking, sustainable and outcome focused policy for developing farm business resilience and environmental enhancement.

"We run the risk of doing something half-baked because we are in a rush to do so and that will benefit no one.

"Many farm businesses feel that they are on hold, with pent up decisions on a range of issues such as investment, tenancy and business succession and retirement planning needing to be made. They await clarity from the government about the way ahead and that clarity is long overdue," Dunn concluded.