News
14th Mar

2019

TFA Media Release MR19/11 – TFA National Chairman 2019 AGM Speech – in Full

***EMBARGOED UNTIL 0:01 ON THURSDAY 14 MARCH 2019***

Tenant Farmers Association

37th ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

THURSDAY, 14 MARCH 2019

Report from the National Chairman, James Gray

2018 will live long in the memories of British farmers for two main reasons – the weather and Brexit.  Much has already been said about both throughout the year but perhaps the one thing which unites them is our apparent incapacity for influence in what are two massively impactful phenomena for British agriculture.

The wet and windy conditions with which 2018 began quickly ushered in one of the coldest and hardest winters we have known for some time.  This was followed by a considerably truncated, if not non-existent spring, leading to a long spell of hot, dry weather lasting through to the latter months of the year.  These conditions placed enormous stress on the livestock and dairy sectors in particular and those impacts are still being felt today through reduced availability of fodder and much higher prices for that which is available.  Hopefully the more benign conditions prevailing at the beginning of this year bode well for the remainder of the year although there are already talks of shortages of water.

As we look across the globe, other countries of the world have also been facing weather related difficulties from wildfires in America, severe drought in Australia and floods in India.  This must serve as a reminder to us all that farming is susceptible and vulnerable to the vagaries of nature and cannot be treated like any other sector of the economy.  This is not an excuse for bad management or for operating in a fundamentally un-economic way, but Governments do need to provide the right policy framework within which we can continue to deliver to consumers safe, high quality food, produced to high environmental, ethical and animal welfare standards at prices they can afford and which provide adequate returns to the farming community to cover costs, provide a living and produce a profit which enables reinvestment.

Brexit does afford us the opportunity to put in place bespoke policies for food, farming and the countryside in the four countries of the United Kingdom.  Since the referendum the Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) has been seeking to work as collaboratively as possible with the UK Government, the Devolved Administrations and other stakeholders to ensure that we are able to put in place sustainable policies for food farming and the environment which create resilient, profitable businesses working to high standards of food quality, environmental management and animal welfare.

As we move away from membership of the European Union it is vital that we do so in a way which seeks to build a positive future for food, farming and the countryside without unnecessarily demonising the policies of the past.  Not all our woes can be placed at the door of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Farming decisions have been made by individual producers against the policy background in place and it is often the case that it is the way domestic Governments have decided to implement aspects of the CAP that have caused the most problems rather than the parent policy itself.  Other drivers also have an impact including planning, taxation and regulation of the supply chain.  That is not to say that I believe the CAP is in any respect perfect, or sacrosanct or beyond reproach.  Equally, I believe that we need to use the opportunity to develop bespoke policies which better fit our national circumstances and priorities.

The TFA also disagrees with the unsubstantiated view expressed in many circles that over the period of our membership of the European Union our farmed environment has deteriorated.  The TFA accepts that, under a different set of policy priorities, we did suffer environmental losses through the early years of our membership of the European Union however, since the middle of the 1980s, the UK has been at the forefront of developing agri-environment policies which have been effective in rebuilding our environmental capital over the past 30 years.  Farmers have proved themselves to be responsive to positive Government policy in this space.  It is disappointing, however, that poor scheme design and inept delivery of Agri-environment schemes are currently causing many farmers to be turned off from involvement in such schemes and this does need to be addressed in the development of future policy in this area.

Productivity is an issue not just for UK agriculture but for the UK economy as a whole.  Again, however, we do not believe that we can lay our productivity problems at the door of the CAP given that other European countries, with the same CAP, appear to be faring better than the UK in terms of productivity growth.  It is also important to look at absolute levels of productivity as well as changes over time.  The TFA would argue that in comparison to some parts of the globe UK agricultural productivity is high and therefore year-on-year changes may lag behind those that may be seen in other countries where absolute levels of productivity are much lower.  Notwithstanding this, the TFA does agree that we need to ensure that UK farmers are operating as efficiently as possible and therefore we do need to look at how we can enhance levels of productivity within the farming sector.

Public health may be under pressure, but this has little to do with the CAP and has more to do with wider supply chain issues, income inequalities, issues of food sovereignty, lifestyle choices, the growth of convenience foods and poor diet.  Farmers are not responsible for any of that.  Farmers deliver high quality, healthy food into the supply chain and it is what happens beyond the farm gate that is the problem.  This is despite the fact that processors and retailers are able to capture a significant proportion of the value-added between the farm gate and point of sale to the consumer.  Issues of public health need to be examined through a more comprehensive lens than just the CAP.

Soil health is under pressure but rather than this being attributed to the CAP, we believe that this has more to do with a tendency towards short term interests in land.   Soil condition has also suffered through the use of short-term agreements.  The TFA is particularly concerned about short lengths of term on FBTs let under the Agricultural Tenancies Act 1995 (ATA 1995) which de-incentivises good practice for improving soil health.  The TFA also asserts that the growth in contract farming arrangements is leading to problems in this respect.  It is right that these issues should be addressed in any future policy by encouraging longer lengths of term on tenancies and focusing support on active farmers.

The system of paying farmers according to the land they have at their disposal has led to increases in farm rents particularly in situations where existing owner occupiers are seeking to take on marginal acres and are willing to pay more than the economic level of rent in order to achieve a greater level of subsidy.  However, we do not believe that this is the reason for higher land prices, which we do see as a problem within the UK.  Land prices are being kept artificially high as a result of a benevolent taxation system for land and this needs to be addressed.  However, many farm businesses are working hard, doing the right thing by the environment, animal welfare and local communities, for whom the Basic Payment Scheme represents the difference between financial security and bankruptcy.  Simply removing direct payments without significantly adjusting other policy areas will be a recipe for disaster.  It is therefore essential that the Government takes a systems approach to policy and does not consider individual aspects in separate silos.  The Basic Payment Scheme may be a blunt instrument, but it is not without its merits in providing much-needed support for businesses who are unable to attract a sufficient return from the marketplace which is stacked against them.

It is the case that, at the margin, direct payments do distort rental values and we have seen particularly high levels of rent bid by existing farmers looking to attract additional acres on FBTs.  This is not the same position for tenants occupying under older style tenancies regulated by the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 (AHA 1986) where, although the availability of subsidy is a relevant factor in a rent review, it is looked at against a host of other relevant factors which diminishes the impact of the subsidy on the overall level of rent.  On FBTs it is often the case that tender rents bid are over and above what might be economically viable from a farming perspective alone.

UK farming delivers to the marketplace high quality products whilst protecting the environment, animal welfare and sustaining rural communities.  What we must now do is develop a suite of policies which ensures that UK farmers and other land managers are able to deliver more of this, more efficiently, everywhere.  We welcome the commitment of the Governments in both England and Wales to do more to help here and we will look to them to use their post Brexit flexibility to the fullest extent possible whilst ensuring that we are not exposed to unnecessary risks, particularly within an international trading environment.

The TFA understands the Government’s focus on ensuring that agriculture continues to provide public goods for society – i.e. those goods where consumption is non-competitive.  We agree that the farming community should be properly rewarded for the public goods which they provide not least landscape, biodiversity, clean air, clean water, soil health and animal welfare.  However, we must not lose sight of the need for Government to continue to ensure that matters which are “in the public good” are not forgotten including food security and protecting standards of production.  We cannot rely upon the market alone to produce sustainable solutions, we must be prepared to intervene to influence economic decisions when required.

There is nothing more basic to our future sustainability as a nation as our ability to feed ourselves.  Although some within Government believe that as a rich nation we could, if needed, import our way out of any future problems, it is too high risk a strategy to rely upon imports of food as the way ahead, particularly within an increasingly volatile political environment globally.

The TFA supports the idea of a new agri-environment scheme based on the principles of public money for public goods as a part of a wider policy for support of agriculture and not as a replacement for the entirety of the support mechanism.  It will be important to ensure that the scheme is relevant not only to owner occupiers but to tenant farmers and to ensure that only active farmers are allowed to participate in the new schemes.

UK farmers are already at the forefront of high animal welfare standards globally.  However, they do not always receive a fair return for the additional costs and effort involved in compliance with high standards.  It is not always the case that labelling is able to direct consumers appropriately towards purchasing high animal welfare products in comparison to those which may have been produced to lower standards.

TFA members are happy to produce to whatever standards are required however they do want to be assured that the market will recognise high standards and reward them accordingly.  This is not always the case not least because of unfair competition from imported product produced to lower standards and which is not sufficiently differentiated on supermarket shelves.  The TFA believes that whatever standards are introduced domestically must also be applied to imported product and raw materials into the food processing sector.  Also, the TFA believes that standards should be inspected at the point of sale and not at the farm gate to ensure that all products on sale are meeting the highest standards possible.

Hill and upland areas of England and Wales are important national assets from a number of perspectives.  By their very nature they are physically, socially and economically remote.  Agriculture continues to be, and should continue to be, the mainstay of economic and environmental management for these areas despite the severe natural handicaps encountered by farmers who operate in hill areas.

These areas are also extremely important in the wider agricultural industry as they represent the beginning of the livestock production chain.  It is the crop of lambs and calves from our breeding flocks and herds in hill areas that are finished further down the hill on lowland units before entering livestock markets and abattoirs on their way to supermarket shelves and food service outlets.  This system of integrated production has operated in the UK for centuries and the impact of the loss of breeding flocks and herds in hill areas experienced over recent years should not be underestimated in terms of the impact on the wider economy, rural social structures and the rural environment.

Farming in hill areas provides the most reliable and coherent basis upon which the management of our most beautiful and yet fragile landscapes and ecology will be achieved.  The knowledge contained within the farming community in hill areas is invaluable and must be the primary source for new policy development.   It is not overstating the case to say that the skills of livestock and moor management are bred into hill people and just as the sheep are hefted so are the people.  Without the hill community in the uplands making money from ruminant production, the landscape will change out of all recognition in a short period of time.  Once it has gone it will be nearly impossible to get back.

Given the harsh and fragile conditions experienced by farmers in the hills, land management is both costly and difficult.  Without public support many of these farms would find it impossible to break even.  Hill areas have been badly affected by a number of major shifts in policy and in reward structures over the past 20 years.  The TFA would argue that the most significant of these negative impacts was the introduction of the Single Payment Scheme in 2005.  It provided a specific, major blow to farming in uplands and had wider ramifications through the ending of payments on breeding livestock rendering those enterprises relying upon breeding stock in difficulty and now in decline.

The previous Suckler Cow Premium and Ewe Premium (and their LFA supplements) provided an essential base line level of support to cattle and sheep breeders in hill areas.  The rationale for removing them was that the breeder should look to the market place for his return.  However, the reality of the situation is that no extra return has been gleaned from the market place following the removal of the breeding premiums which has led to the contraction of cattle and sheep numbers in the hills which has in turn led to inevitable implications for the natural environment including the incursion of bracken and other evidences of under grazing.  The TFA’s view is that renewed consideration should be given to how upland livestock production should be supported for the food, environmental and social benefits it brings.

We need a fundamental review of the decision which led to the abandonment of payments for breeding livestock and the development of a new scheme for the long-term which will deliver an integrated upland environmental land management reward package with stock rearing at its core.

The tenanted sector of agriculture is of major significance to the wider farming industry.  In its intrinsic separation of the functions of land ownership and land management it allows individuals to focus on their specific expertise.  Landowners concerned about long-term capital values and sustainable land use can articulate those aspirations through the terms of the tenancy agreements they seek to agree with farm tenants, and tenants can use their business acumen and farming skills to invest in and use the land to create an annual profit from which they are able to pay a sustainable rent.

The landlord/tenant system provides liquidity to the most fixed factor of production in agriculture – land.  Farm businesses looking to expand or contract can use the flexibility of the landlord/tenant system to meet their objectives without having to be concerned about issues of land ownership.  There are many individuals who wish to retain a long-term interest in owning land without wanting to have the responsibility to farm and manage it on a day to day basis.  There are also many who lack the necessary capitalisation to acquire land outright in order to allow their businesses to expand.  The landlord/tenant system provides the fluidity for the best economic outcomes to be achieved.

Against the background of the importance of the tenanted sector in agriculture, it is essential to consider the current condition of the sector and its future prospects.  The conclusions of the TFA’s analysis of the current position of the tenanted sector is that it has been adversely affected by short-term thinking from policy makers, landowners and those who seek to advise landowners with the average length of term on new tenancies now consistently under 4.5 years.  Over three quarters of all farms let are for terms less than five years.

With the amount of land let under the ATA 1995 likely to exceed land let under the AHA 1986 soon, the resilience of the tenanted sector will increasingly rely upon FBTs.  With average lengths of term as described and with the spread of tenancies offered tending to be skewed to the much shorter lengths, this is a real concern.  With such short lengths of term, tenants lack the ability to plan for the long term either in relation to their agricultural activities or in relation to their desire to take part in diversification activities and agri-environment schemes.  It is essential that this issue is addressed.  The TFA believes that the best way of doing so is through manipulation of the taxation environment within which landlords make decisions about land use.

Alongside the taxation changes to encourage longer FBTs, which will be a necessity for the post Brexit era, there is a further change which the TFA would advocate both to discourage inflationary pressures on land prices whilst, at the same time, providing greater scope for the provision of much needed fixed equipment on tenanted holdings.  This is a change to the operation of Capital Gains Tax rollover relief.

Although not directly impacting upon the interests of TFA members, the TFA has been concerned about the inflationary impact on land prices caused by the extent to which Capital Gains Tax rollover relief is obtained following the investment of a capital gain into agricultural land.  Such investments are popular because they are considered safe and provide taxpayers with access to further tax efficient ways to manage their wealth including in relation to inheritance tax.

However, it is a regret that landlords are unable to obtain rollover relief in respect of capital gains invested into fixed equipment on let holdings which would have a beneficial impact on farm productivity, profitability and resilience.  The TFA believes that there is merit in considering a rebalancing such that items of fixed equipment on tenanted holdings are added to the list of assets that can be used for capital gains tax rollover relief and that this is paid for by abolishing rollover relief on land purchases (except where land has been lost through compulsory purchase).

Another area upon which the Government needs to focus is to promote fairness in supply chains.  This will be a prerequisite to any hope the Government may have to reduce the industry’s reliance on public funding.  Too often farmers are left as the weakest players in supply chains squeezed by both those who are supplying inputs and those who take their outputs.  Farmers are price takers on both inputs and outputs.  Processors, retailers and others can use their power in the marketplace to transfer unfair levels of risk and excessive costs to those upstream of them in the supply chain.

The imbalance in supply chains is a demonstration of market failure and this is a legitimate, priority area for Government to consider given that when markets fail, society loses out.  That market failure evidences itself through practices such as late payment of supplier invoices, unexplained deductions or requiring suppliers to pay fees over and above previously agreed levels.

Unfair practices have already been identified by the UK Government and led to the establishment of the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) to oversee direct supply contracts with the biggest UK retailers.  The Government has decided not to extend the remit of the GCA which the TFA believes was a missed opportunity.  However, the UK Government has included a section on supply chain issues within the Agriculture Bill currently before Parliament.  This covers the part of the supply chain from the farm gate to first purchaser.  Whilst its intention is to give oversight of these issues to the Rural Payments Agency, the view of the TFA is that the Government should look again at extending the current remit of the GCA.

The GCA has had a positive impact on the groceries market by ensuring that there is a greater focus on the principles of fair trading and that retailers are now more aware of the need to ensure that they are not using their dominant position within the supply chain to engage in inappropriate practices.  However, the extent of the influence of the GCA is limited by its current legislative powers both in terms of the scope of its remit and its ways of working.

Firstly, the Adjudicator must have the power to initiate own initiative investigations.  Currently the Adjudicator is only able to act on complaints.  In the same way that OFSTED has the powers to investigate the performance of schools on its own initiative and with very short notice, the same powers should be provided to the Adjudicator to be able to investigate code compliance amongst retailers.  The new powers must provide the GCA with the ability to look at individual or specific issues of code compliance and require retailers to provide evidence, when inspected on these specific areas, which demonstrates their code compliance.

Secondly, the GCA needs to be given a role to look at the whole of the supply chain and not just direct suppliers to retailers as is currently the case.  Given that the vast majority of farm produce passes through at least one processor if not more before it hits supermarket shelves, the Adjudicator is therefore unable to consider the impact of retailer activity on many farmers.  None of the issues highlighted above could be looked at by the Adjudicator without an expansion of the GCA’s remit.

Thirdly, whilst not wanting to give the Adjudicator the power to fix prices, the Adjudicator should have the powers to investigate and report on the balance of pricing throughout the supply chain to ensure that each of those involved in the supply chain, from farmer through processor to retailer, has information upon which to base their negotiations.  One of the requirements for a perfectly functioning free market is access to market knowledge.  Such information on the balance of returns is not widely available and therefore there is the need for the Adjudicator to be given the powers, responsibility and resource to plug this gap.

Giving the GCA the ability to look at the whole of the supply chain and powers of short or no notice inspection would together provide a potent check against bad practice within the supply chain.  The availability of information on returns will be of great assistance in allowing farmers and farmer groups to negotiate better deals with processors and retailers.

Turning to matters of devolution, having been part of the EU single market we will need to tread incredibly carefully to ensure that we do not either deliberately or inadvertently create barriers to trade within the UK market through emerging differences within the four countries of the United Kingdom.  Devolution does provide scope for each country to concentrate on policies which are important to them but this must not come at a cost of undermining the extent to which we can trade freely with one another within the context of the United Kingdom.   This will matter most immediately to those farm businesses working across the UK’s internal borders who may have to follow two different regulatory standards.  However, it also matters to every farm and food business that depends on trade within the UK single market should different standards for production methods or product standards become barriers to trade.

This must be achieved with diplomacy and consultation across the four countries, always ensuring that each of the four countries has an equal voice at the table.  There is a danger that the English voice will be conflated with the UK voice and that would be something that could hamper progress.  The TFA argues that we need a separate English voice at ministerial level as distinct from the UK position.  Rightly, the Devolved Administrations argue that they have a legitimate right and expectation to be consulted on the overarching framework for agriculture and that legally it must be agreed by negotiation rather than imposed by Westminster.

The UK’s various Governments, Parliaments and regulators should take every step to retain and protect a market access for food, agricultural commodities, live animals and plant products throughout the UK.  Farming Ministers across the UK and agricultural departments must establish and maintain regular, formal and cooperative arrangements to manage policy, legislation and delivery of regulation across the UK economic area. No part of the UK should be able to act, or avoid action, that threatens to curtail access for other parts of the UK to third country markets, or that question the UK’s adherence to its international agreements.

The TFA also believes that it would be appropriate that the current spend on policy across the four administrations should be broadly similar in the post Brexit environment as it has been as a member of the European Union.  We do not believe that any “Brexit dividend” should be subject to the Barnett formula.  Any future expenditure must be kept at least in line with current levels of expenditure at a UK level and allocated in proportion to the current levels of expenditure in each of the four countries with no one country receiving less than now.

Much of the Government’s post Brexit policy for agriculture will be delivered through the architecture of the Agriculture Bill wending its way through its Parliamentary stages.  Wales intends to have its own “made in country” legislation in due course but will be reliant upon Schedule 3 of the Bill to implement policy in advance of being able to bring forward its own statute.

Whilst it is appreciated that, in the main, the Bill provides a framework for implementation of existing and future Government policy this leaves a lot to trust.  We would like to hear from Government both that it intends to make full use of the powers that it will be reserving to itself in bringing this legislation into force and that it will be making available the Parliamentary time required to allow for the large number of regulations to be confirmed.

The TFA has welcomed the provisions relating to new powers to grant financial assistance and, in particular, it is pleasing to see the powers to provide assistance for improvement of productivity.  However, it is of regret that the Bill does not provide a mechanism for setting a budget for these financial assistance powers. The Government has provided an assurance of maintaining the current budget until 2022 but we believe that this Bill should contain provisions to allow for multiannual budgets (five-year budgets) to be agreed thereafter. Also, given the size of the task ahead, we would seek a Government assurance that it will not look to diminish the current budget into the long term.

In the context of this legislation being an Agriculture Bill, the TFA believes it is necessary to restrict the financial assistance powers such that they are available only in respect of individuals who are operating units which are predominantly agricultural in nature.   There also needs to be a clear limitation of who can be considered a beneficiary by having a definition of “active farmer” or “active land manager” in the Bill.  The definition should be to focus only on individuals in occupation of the land they are farming, taking the entrepreneurial risk for the decisions made in relation to the management of the farm and in day to day management control.  The TFA has secured the tabling of amendments to the Bill on both these important aspects.

Many tenants will be restricted in the use of their holdings to maintain them in agricultural use only and therefore would be disenfranchised if landlords did not give consent for them to access schemes to provide public goods as envisaged by the Bill.  There is concern that landlords of 1986 Act tenants could use their leverage in having to give consent to secure unreasonable demands from tenants including loss of security, unsustainable levels of rent or other unwarranted commitments.  On the other hand, they may simply refuse consent to make the holding less profitable and therefore more likely that the landowner will recover possession of the holding to undermine the security of tenure provisions.

The same is true of clauses relating to fixed equipment where tenants often must seek the consent of their landlords before they invest in new or amend existing fixed equipment on their holdings.  The Bill must be amended to provide for the ability for a tenant to seek consent which the landlord cannot reasonably deny or delay.  Again, the TFA has secured the tabling amendments to amend the Bill which we hope will have resonance at Report Stage.

The TFA also supports the concept of delinking payments and the provisions for providing a lump sum payment in lieu of future direct payments through the intended transition period.  The TFA believes that this will be of significant assistance to progress restructuring within the industry allowing individuals to use both de-linked payments and consolidated payments to retire from the industry or invest in their businesses or to invest in other economic activities either on their holdings or off their holdings. However, it will be essential that recipients of these payments must meet the active farmer test at the time they make the application for these payments to be made.

Whatever the outcome of the Brexit negotiations and the final shape of the Agriculture Bill it is clear that change is coming, and there will be a need to ensure that the agricultural industry is in the best position possible to take advantage of that change.  One organisation the industry may look to assist with that is the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).  We warmly welcomed the decision by DEFRA and the Devolved Administrations to review the operation and performance of AHDB – something that members of the TFA had been calling for some time.

AHDB derives the bulk of its income from a statutory levy generated from the farming community, which delivers around £60 million per annum to AHDB which it spends across its six, sector boards.  £60 million per year is a sizeable budget in comparison to other organisations within the sector.  Of course, it could be argued that it is small by comparison to the business development budgets within other sectors of the economy.  However, this is money taken on a mandatory basis from the profits of hard-working farmers who need to be assured that it is being well spent and invested to deliver value for the industry into the long term.

The key issue is how we measure the value that AHDB delivers to the industry as a whole.  As we move into the post Brexit era, which will present both opportunities and challenges for the UK agricultural industry, it is vital that every penny of the budget at the disposal of AHDB is used to drive the sustainability, resilience and profitability of UK agriculture and horticulture.  However, it must do so in a way which corrects for wider market failure rather than supplying services to individuals which are available through other means.  AHDB must find itself more often ensuring that it is pushing ahead at the leading edge of the industry in terms of new technology, market development, skills and progression.

Taking this forward, the TFA believes that market development both domestically and for export should be the main priority for a newly constituted AHDB in a significantly reformed setup.  The ability to find routes to market both domestically and internationally is an important need for the industry, particularly in a post Brexit environment, and one upon which AHDB should be concentrating much more.

The TFA has also called for a significant review of governance and of the levy payment system so that it is fairer across the sectors involved.  Currently it would appear that expenditure is determined by the level of income generated rather than ensuring that the organisation has a clear mandate with firmly established key performance indicators against which the budget and the levy should be set.

Although the Government launched the review as a “light touch” review the TFA believes that there is scope for far-reaching recommendations that places AHDB on a much more valuable basis for the industry in the post Brexit era.  It is a regret that the Government has put the review of AHDB on hold for the time being.  It is vital that we have an organisation that is fit for purpose particularly in light of its ability to sustain a guaranteed income from a statutory levy.

The decision of George Eustice to resign as Farming Minister came out of the blue.  Although we did not always see eye to eye, he will be a sad loss from the Government front bench. His support for reform of agricultural tenancies and his determination to see reforms in AHDB must be picked up by his successor, Robert Goodwill whom we hope to meet soon.

Alongside our lobbying activities the TFA is also focused on ensuring that our members are ready for whatever circumstances arise from the current negotiations over Brexit.  We have been delivering a series of meetings to brief members on the current status of negotiations and progress on the agriculture deal.  We have also welcomed the opportunity of partnering with Farming Connect in Wales to deliver specific tenant-farmer forums earlier this year which we hope to expand further in the year ahead.

Whilst the TFA has traditionally focused its attention on the tenanted sector of agriculture, it is acutely aware that entrepreneurs without access to owned land will be offered opportunities on a whole range of possible agreements including tenancies, share farming, share partnerships, contract farming and grazing licences.  We want to become the natural home for all those who farm land that they do not own, regardless of the type of agreement they draw up for their occupation or use.  We want to ensure that entrepreneurs can secure the best agreements they can, which are fair to both them and the owners of that land and which enable them to progress sustainably in their business goals.  We will always see farm tenancies as the ‘Rolls Royce’ of agreements, but we must also ensure that those operating under other agreements have access to good advice and support too.

I would like to thank all our partners, affiliates, recommended professionals and other organisations with whom we have worked throughout the past year to deliver important services to the tenanted sector of agriculture.  We are particularly grateful this year to Barclays agriculture for sponsoring our members meetings and to Thrings Solicitors and Agri-advisor who sponsor the TFA newsletter and TFA Cymru newsletter respectively.  Our new insurance affiliation with Hendersons continues to grow and is reaping benefits for TFA members as is our renewed legal expenses insurance scheme now being delivered by LPG.

I am hugely appreciative of the sterling efforts of our Head Office staff led by our long-standing Chief Executive, George Dunn.  My thanks also to my National Vice-chair, Mark Coulman and Treasurer Robert Martin who it has been a pleasure to work alongside together with all the members of the TFA’s Executive Committee.

My wife and family have been a tremendous support in allowing me to continue in my role as National Chair of the TFA and I thank them for all that they do.

Finally, I am very appreciative of all the members of the TFA and thank them for their continued support and they can rest assured that I and the TFA will continue to work doggedly on their behalf.

 

Ref: MR19/11                                                                Date: 14 March 2019

Notes for Editors:

For further information contact Julia Meadows on 0118 930 6130 or 07887 777157

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