Tackling the anti-farming agenda, the Rock Review and supply chain fairness - What does the next Government need to deliver for tenant farmers?

Tenant Farmers Association national chair Robert Martin said: "There is enough evidence to show that there is market failure in food supply chains in this country and we need a Government that is committed to ensuring that those market failures are addressed"

clock • 3 min read
Tackling the anti-farming agenda, the Rock Review and supply chain fairness - What does the next Government need to deliver for tenant farmers?

The anti-meat, anti-dairy and anti-farming agendas that have been driving large areas of policy need to be reined in to achieve a much more balanced and pragmatic platform to produce the food, environmental and energy security we need. 

That was the message from Tenant Farmers Association national chair Robert Martin, who said farmer and growers 'are not subsidy junkies', adding farmers would much rather their businesses thrived based on 'fair market returns'. 

Fairness in the supply chain 

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Mr Martin outlined four key areas for the next incoming Government to prioritise on including the implementation of the Rock Review into agricultural tenancies; a better balance between food, environmental and energy security, increasing the quantity and value of our agricultural exports and delivering fairness and better return in the supply chain. 

Mr Martin said: "There is enough evidence to show that there is market failure in food supply chains in this country and we need a Government that is committed to ensuring that those market failures are addressed. Up to now, we have been tinkering around the edges. A more fundamental regulatory approach, focusing on an expanded role for the Groceries Code Adjudicator is needed."

General Election 

He argued the Rock Review into agricultural tenancies already provided 'a ready-made template for the next Government' for the tenanted sector. 

"Whether it is about the design of new Government schemes, changes to legislation, the taxation environment within which tenant farming operates, or the way in which disputes are handled, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Whilst good progress has been made under the current Government, there is still much to achieve including the establishment of the Tenant Farming Commissioner in the autumn, as announced in the Farm to Fork Summit."

READ NOW: Costly legal fees denying tenant farmers justice, says Tenant Farmers Association

Agricultural Property Relief

Mr Martin criticised the Government for 'dropping the ball' on the changes to agricultural property relief to encourage longer tenancies - an area he said the next administration 'must take forward.' 

He said: "To date, we have made scant use of our post Brexit freedoms including to enhance our trading position as an exporting country and in removing unnecessary regulations. So far, we have only scratched the surface of the benefits that could be achieved from taking full control of the levers that influence our trade, policy and domestic legislation. We need a bold Government willing to set aside old EU playbooks, that seem to dog much of the Whitehall approach, to achieve much, much more. 

Food security

Mr Martin was also concerned that there had been 'too much emphasis' on taking land out of agricultural production for tree planting, rewilding, solar energy, biodiversity net gain and schemes to achieve nutrient neutrality for housebuilders.

READ ALSO: Tenant farmers report 'success and stalemate'

"Farmers and growers have a unique ability to deliver high quality food and significant benefits for the environment, including the sequestration and storage of vast amounts of carbon. The anti-meat, anti-dairy and anti-farming agendas that have been driving large areas of policy need to be reined in to achieve a much more balanced and pragmatic platform to produce the food, environmental and energy security we need, he added. 

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