Experts discuss future of tenant farming sector at NFU conference

With more than 60% of England’s farmland managed by tenant farmers, industry leaders, experts, institutional landlords and tenant farming members have come together to discuss the future of the sector. 

The NFU’s Tenants Conference took place on Tuesday 16th April at NFU Stoneleigh Headquarters.  

The NFU’s Tenants Conference took place today (Tuesday 16th April) at NFU Stoneleigh Headquarters.  

It was chaired by NFU deputy president David Exwood and attended by farming minister Sir Mark Spencer. 

Mr Exwood said: “Tenant farmers are some of the most dynamic and forward-thinking farmers I know.  

“I am a tenant farmer myself, and we play a vital role in producing food for the nation while delivering the government’s environmental targets, helping to grow the rural economy, and being at the heart of rural communities. 

David Exwood

“Just like all other sectors, tenant farmers across the country are feeling the squeeze; the cumulative loss of direct payments over the past four years and the slow transition to the Environmental Land Management scheme (ELMs), together with high input costs have created real cashflow issues.  

“However, as tenants, we don’t often have the financial capital to pivot to embrace new opportunities in the same way as non-tenant farmers, which leaves us particularly vulnerable. 

“Now we are dealing with the immense pressure of what the adverse weather is throwing at us, with months of non-stop rain and some of the worst flooding on record, causing further financial and mental wellbeing concerns.” 

Creating new opportunities for tenant farmers

The NFU deputy president also mentioned the recent rollout of the Farm Tenancy Forum as well as the implementation of the Rock Review recommendations. 

The NFU played a significant role in campaigning for the Agricultural Landlord and Tenant Code of Practice, which also launched this month. 

Mr Exwood explained that the code of practice aims to help foster fairness, address poor conduct, as well as highlight good practice, and provide a good basis for ongoing tenant-landlord relationships. 

He added: “By working together, we can and must create new opportunities for tenant farmers, which will help us to deliver a robust, vibrant, and thriving agricultural tenanted sector for the future.” 

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