Watch again: Future policy concerns prompt NFU Cymru call for establishment of a tenant working group

NFU Cymru has called for Welsh Government to establish a new tenant working group to ensure the proposed agricultural policy works for the full range of tenancy and rental agreements in Wales.

The call was made at the NFU Cymru Tenants’ Seminar, held virtually on Thursday 10th February, where it was highlighted that as Welsh Government develops its plans to phase out the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and phase in the Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) from 2025, it is vital that tenant farmers are able to access future support on equal terms and that they are not disadvantaged. 

The farmer panel at the event, chaired by Wrexham beef and arable farmer Will Evans, set out a number of key challenges faced by farmers who do not own the land that they farm in Wales.  This included gaining landlord’s permission for SFS agreements if they are multi-year and where they are prevented from undertaking certain actions under the terms of their tenancy. 

Securing future SFS payments

The risk of the landlords seeking to secure future SFS payments for themselves was highlighted, given that Welsh Government’s proposed scheme centres on the delivery of mainly environmental actions. Several speakers and attendees also raised the risk of future Welsh Government farm policy driving widespread land use change to meet tree planting targets, warning this could also lead to existing tenancies not being renewed and limited opportunities for the next generation of farmers. It would also have significant ramifications for rural employment, communities and the Welsh language in the future, the session was told.

Speaking after the event, NFU Cymru President Aled Jones said “Members listening to the Minister for Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths at the NFU Cymru Tenants’ Seminar will have been heartened to hear her say that if future policy does not work for the tenanted sector, it does not work at all. 

Equality of access

“It is vital that the SFS offers equality of access and opportunity to all farmers in Wales. With up to 30% of land farmed in Wales through formal and informal tenant agreements, there is a need to design future agricultural policy around the broad range of land tenure that exists in Wales, including tenancy and rental agreements, so that farmers are not left behind in Welsh Government farm policy reforms. 

“It is important to recognise that many tenants are on short term Farm Business Tenancies and lets and Welsh Government’s proposals represent a significant shift from having management control of land on the 15th May to be eligible for the BPS, as they do currently. 

“We remain highly concerned that some farmers may not be able to demonstrate sufficient management control of the land they farm to secure contracts for future support and may lose out. 

The active farmer

“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.  It is the person who farms the land that should secure future support payments.  A group to explore the specific issues across the full range of tenancy and rental agreements that we have here in Wales to inform the development of future policy should be a key priority for Welsh Government”.

Full seminar recording

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