NFU Cymru has responded to Welsh Government’s consultation proposals to reform agricultural tenancy legislation in Wales.
The consultation, which closed earlier this week, puts forward proposals on a number of specific changes to tenancy law – both the 1986 Agricultural Holdings Act and the 1995 Agricultural Tenancies Act.
The proposed changes are aimed at reforming and modernising agricultural tenancy regulations to provide an enabling environment for sustainable productivity improvements and investment; facilitating structural change and supporting new entrants and the next generation; and also enabling tenant farmers to access new agricultural and land management schemes.
Speaking at Monmouthshire Show, NFU Cymru President John Davies said:
“This consultation has given us a valuable opportunity to engage with our tenant farmer members to hear their views on the planned changes for the tenanted sector. This included a very well attended meeting at Monmouthshire Livestock Centre last month. It is clear that a number of the proposals will provide greater flexibility for tenant farming businesses allowing them to be more productive through removing restrictions to tenancy law and opening up rules on succession. This will allow both landlords and tenants to make investments in their farm holdings, which will help drive greater productivity.”
“A thriving tenanted sector is vital for a productive, profitable and progressive farming industry in Wales. Whilst a range of routes into farming exist, access to land through Farm Business Tenancy (FBT) remains a key route for many new entrants and young farmers as well as many expanding farm businesses. There are many valuable reforms within the consultation, therefore, that we would like to see implemented.
“However, on the key policy goal of enabling equal access to new agricultural support schemes in Wales, NFU Cymru’s fundamental concerns remain.
“With the proposed phasing out of direct support by Welsh Government, the question of who – the person who owns the land or the person who farms the land (where they are different) will receive future support payments remains in question.
“Welsh Government also proposes that long-term interventions and contracts will be needed to deliver public goods outcomes and how these can be achieved in the context of short-term tenancies which are very common in Wales is also an issue that needs to be resolved.
“Whether Welsh Government tenancy reform proposals can realistically address concerns within the timeframe of the proposed transition away from the CAP also has to be questioned.
“NFU Cymru has long been clear future support should be targeted at the active farmer – the person who takes the business risk associated with food production. Equal access for farmers who do not own the land they farm to the schemes that will replace the CAP remains a key priority for NFU Cymru during the forthcoming consultation on future policy expected this summer. Our concerns for the future of tenant farmers and their ability to access support through the proposed future schemes must be addressed before changes are made.”
Concluding, Mr Davies said:
“Overall, NFU Cymru is clear future policy must not weaken the position of tenant farmers through changes to agricultural policy moving forward.”