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Food security: tenant farmers need long leases

[Tuesday 20 January 2009]

TENANT farmers will play a key role in the Government’s newly announced drive for “food security” – the need for the UK to produce more of its own food – but to do so effectively, they must be given longer leases by their landlords.

The farming industry faces a number of challenges requiring those in the industry to have the long term security and flexibility to invest for the future to ensure that they are equal to those challenges for the public good

Greg Bliss - Tenant Farmers Association

This is the view of the Tenant Farmers Association following an apparent change of heart by the food and environment agency Defra, which has made food security one of its key policies after years of being accused by farmers or being more interested in environmental problems than food production.

This week, TFA chairman Greg Bliss will be at a two-day agricultural machinery show in Nottinghamshire lobbying landlords to think long-term when they lease farms to their tenants.

“The farming industry faces a number of challenges requiring those in the industry to have the long term security and flexibility to invest for the future to ensure that they are equal to those challenges for the public good,” says Mr Bliss.

“Adapting to climate change and responding to Government policies attempting to mitigate it, playing a key role in securing food security, contributing to energy security and maintaining healthy and diverse land, air and water environments will not be achieved with inflexible and short term horizons.”

Over a third of agricultural land in England and Wales is farmed by tenants. However, following the deregulation of the market in farm tenancies in 1995 the average length of new tenancies has fallen to only three years and nine months in comparison to the lifetime and three generational tenancies created prior to deregulation.

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