The Welsh Tenant Farmers’ Association (TFA Cymru) has called for the Welsh government to fulfil its promises to tenant farmers in 2023.

The chair of TFA Cymru, Dennis Matheson, has said he is challenging the government to show early in the New year how its plans for future farm policy within Wales will accommodate the needs of the tenanted sector of agriculture.

“Whilst we have welcomed the statements made by Welsh Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths, that new schemes being developed in Wales must work for tenant farmers, we have seen little evidence to date of how this is going to happen in practice,” Matheson said.

“Despite literally years of engagement with Welsh government explaining the constraints within which tenant farmers have to operate, in terms of the legislation governing farm tenancies and within specific tenancy agreements, none of this appears to have been factored into the way in which schemes are being developed.”

Matheson said he has “lost count” of the number of times TFA Cymru has told the Welsh government that trees and woodlands fall outside the scope of most farm tenancies and that most tenants are prevented from planting trees.

“Despite this, the proposed Sustainable Farming Scheme has a universal requirement for all participants to either have 10% tree cover already or commit to providing that level of cover on the holding. That is simply unachievable for the tenanted sector of agriculture,” he said.

“Additionally, the requirements to have 10% of land in semi-natural habitat could fall foul of the rules of good husbandry written in 1947. These rules require tenant farmers to make maximum, efficient use of their holdings for agricultural production.

“The current definition of agriculture, as it applies to agricultural tenancies, does not include the use of land for enhancing biodiversity, eco-systems services or sequestering and storing carbon,” he added.

“These are all things that Welsh government wants farms to achieve more of. In light of this, it is surprising that the Agriculture (Wales) Bill introduced to the Senedd contains no provisions for amending these historic rules and definitions.”


The introduction of the new prevention of agricultural pollution regulations in Wales is also causing issues for the tenanted sector of agriculture, TFA Cymru has said.

The association said it is often the case that the fixed equipment on holdings used to store and manage slurry belongs to landlords who will have responsibility to ensure compliance with the new regulations.

Even when responsibility does fall to the tenants, TFA Cymru said there can often be specific requirements within tenancy agreements which prevent them from adding or amending fixed equipment without their landlord’s consent.

“In cases where it is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure compliance with the regulations, getting the landlord to comply is not an easy or quick process,” Matheson said.

“Tenants must not be penalised under the regulations or prevented from joining the new Sustainable Farming Scheme if they have done all they reasonably can to get their landlords to comply.

“There is no ‘one size fits all’ policy that will work across all types of land occupation. There will be huge differences depending on whether farmland is owner occupied, tenanted, grazed under licence or used as common land,” he continued.

“It is at least good news that the Welsh government has recognised this by establishing a Tenancy Working Group and a Commons Working Group. TFA Cymru is represented on both groups.

“However, the proof of the pudding will be very much in the eating. These groups must be given a free hand to both highlight the issues and recommend solutions which will then need to be taken forward by Welsh government.”