A Call for Evidence to explore the proposal for a Tenant Farming Commissioner and encourage more collaborative tenant-landlord and advisor relationships has been launched by the government this week.
The Call for Evidence will build on important insights from the Rock Review by seeking industry views on the extent of poor practice in the sector – such as a lack of communication between landlords, tenants and their advisors on key business issues such as tenancy renewal and rent reviews – and how to encourage more collaborative tenant-landlord and advisor relationships.
It will also gather evidence on whether existing ways to register complaints in the industry are effective in addressing poor practice and examine the potential role of an independent Tenant Farming Commissioner who would provide more scrutiny of conduct in the sector and promote codes of good practice.
Farming Minister Mark Spencer said:
Tenant farmers are at the heart of our rural economy. We’ve made significant progress in delivering our response to the Rock Review, including making our Environment Land Management schemes more accessible to tenant farmers, and will continue to work closely with tenants, landlords and the wider industry to drive further positive change.
The Call for Evidence is a further important step forward in achieving this and I encourage farmers, landlords and advisors to express their views to their relevant trade body to make sure experiences from all parts of the sector are heard.
This week’s announcement builds on the significant progress the government has already made to deliver on key recommendations from the Rock Review.
This includes the establishment of the Farm Tenancy Forum in July 2023 to prioritise the delivery of the commitments in the Government response to the Rock Review. This Forum is made up of industry representatives of tenant farmers, landlords and professional advisors and is working to consider the unique challenges facing the sector, facilitate more collaborative relationships between landlords and tenants, and help shape farming policy.
The government say they are also making the UK’s Environmental Land Management schemes more accessible to tenant farmers, with thousands of farmers on tenanted and mixed land having expressed an interest in the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) and over half of applications in the first round of our Landscape Recovery scheme involving tenanted land.
The government is also:
- Working with the sector to develop a new Code of Practice setting standards of responsible conduct for all parties to tenancy agreements.
- Committed to offering more actions on three-year agreements under the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) without requiring landlord consent from 2024.
- Encouraging collaboration with a wide range of land managers, including tenant farmers, through our Landscape Recovery Scheme.
- Exploring support for New Entrants through a pilot scheme earlier this year where over 80% of participants who took part came from a non-farming family background. The pilots looked at how we can best support people to enter the sector and increase their opportunities to access land and finance, including support on pitching for tenancies.
- Tracking data on the amount of land in the tenanted sector to pick up any emerging trends on land resumption and looking for ways to identify drivers of change.
This comes as the government is providing more than £168 million in grants this year across the industry, including tenant farmers, to drive innovation, support food production, improve animal health and welfare and protect the environment.
The Call for Evidence will run for 12 weeks until 8 February 2024. Industry trade organisations and professional bodies representing the views and interests of tenant farmers, landlords and professional advisors, as well as from sector experts and forums who have insights and experience within the industry, are invited to respond.