The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) is lobbying for changes in the taxation framework within which farm tenancies operate to secure longer and more sustainable farm tenancy agreements.

TFA chief executive, George Dunn, said: "Since the introduction of Farm Business Tenancies [FBTs] in 1995, term lengths have been pitifully short.

Year on year, average lengths of term have rarely been above four years. In fact, 2019 saw one of the lowest average lengths of term on record at 3.21 years, with 89% of all new farm tenancies offered for periods of five years or less.

The TFA argued that longer term farm tenancies are needed to ensure the sustainability and resilience of farm businesses and for the contribution that farms make to wider public goods, such as soil management, biodiversity and the sequestration and storage of carbon.

'The market is failing to deliver'

Dunn continued:

"The market is failing to deliver sustainable solutions for farm tenancies.

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"It is driven by an overarching desire from those advising landlords to retain control and maximise flexibility to take advantage of changes in policy or alternative markets such as commercial or residential development.

There is no incentive to think long term and no penalty for taking a short-term approach. Short-term FBTs stifle innovation, restrict sustainable investment and prevent good soil management.

"The security of farm tenants is at the whim of their landlords, or more typically, their landlords’ agents," he concluded.