Environment Secretary George Eustice has today (Friday, January 28) announced a new working group dedicated to looking at how tenant farmers and tenancies can be better supported as farming in England is reformed to be more sustainable.

The Tenancy Working Group will be chaired by Baroness Kate Rock and will provide tenant farmers and associated stakeholders a further opportunity to make sure the new environmental land management schemes work within agricultural tenancies.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it is currently working in partnership with farmers, landowners and tenants to design new, post-Brexit agricultural schemes, and support choices that they make for their own holdings.

The new Tenancy Working Group will provide independent advice, from a tenant farmer’s perspective, on Defra’s scheme developments. Some of what they will review include:

  • How Defra can use scheme design to facilitate participation of and benefits to tenant farmers in new government ELMs and related schemes;
  • Consideration of what policy initiatives will secure the long-term sustainability of tenant farming in England;
  • How best to foster positive and long-term relationships between tenants and landlords;
  • Providing advice on ways to minimise any potential loss of land from the tenanted sector to avoid damaging its resilience; and
  • Consideration of why it might be necessary to look for new legislative or regulatory powers in the future.

The group will publish a report later this year setting out its conclusions and recommendations to Defra.

Commenting on the establishment of the group, Eustice said:

“We are designing our new schemes in partnership with farmers, and this group will focus specifically on the tenanted sector.

“We want to identify and explore ways to really make sure that our new schemes work for tenant farmers, and the breadth of knowledge and expertise within this group will allow us to do so.” 

“Tenant farmers are crucial to our farming industry, our farmed environment, and our farming future,” added Baroness Rock.

“Access to the new schemes will be of utmost importance to secure the long-term sustainability of tenant farming in England.

“I am delighted to be chairing this timely working group and look forward to engaging fully with all stakeholders involved in the tenanted sector.“