Peers support greater flexibility for tenant farmers

Tenancy restrictions prevent farmers from diversifying, peers say
Tenancy restrictions prevent farmers from diversifying, peers say

Peers have called for the government to address restrictions on farm tenancy agreements which prevent tenant farmers from diversifying.

Restrictions within tenancy agreements often prevented tenant farmers from diversifying their businesses, the House of Lords Rural Economy Committee said.

It said the government should consider a possible change in the law to provide greater flexibility for farm tenants as part of its consultation on reform of farm tenancy legislation.

The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) has welcomed the report, saying: “As we move more towards a policy around public payments from public goods and seeing a reduced focus on supporting agriculture per se, we need to make sure that farm tenants are not disenfranchised in the process.”

However, the TFA said it was 'disappointed' that the Agriculture Bill, currently awaiting report stage in the House of Commons, contained no provisions to improve the position of farm tenants.

This was despite the recognition that change was necessary not least following the report of the Tenancy Reform Industry Group submitted to government in autumn 2017.

TFA’s Chief Executive, George Dunn said: “The government has come forward with a consultation on possible changes to tenancy legislation which includes a suggested provision for allowing tenants greater flexibility to use their holdings for non-agricultural activities, such as diversification and for involvement in environmental schemes.

“However, it is vital that we do not lose the opportunity within the current legislative window to get the necessary provisions in place.”

He added: “The TFA hopes that their Lordships will take the opportunity of supporting amendments to the bill if it leaves the House of Commons without adequate amendment.”