Farming News - Queens Speech Must Deliver Better Agriculture Bill for Farm Tenants

Queens Speech Must Deliver Better Agriculture Bill for Farm Tenants

08 Oct 2019
Frontdesk / Arable / Finance

The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) is pressing the Government to come forward with a new Agriculture Bill in the Queen’s Speech to provide better provisions for tenant farmers who are responsible for around one-third of the farmland in the country.

The Government is expected to have a second attempt at Prorogation this week, to allow for a Queen’s Speech early next week to set out the Government’s legislative priorities.

TFA Chief Executive, George Dunn, said “With Parliamentary time at a premium and with DEFRA expected to have several important Bills listed in the Queen’s speech, it may be some time into the future before DEFRA gets another slot for primary legislation. Therefore, it must ensure that it takes the opportunity to broaden the scope of the Agriculture Bill to include agricultural tenancy reform over which it has consulted. These issues must not be kicked into the long grass.”

“The Agriculture Bill introduced to the House of Commons in the current session of Parliament was deliberately devoid of any reforms to agricultural tenancy legislation. This was partly because the Government was yet to finalise its consultation on such changes, and because the Parliamentary business managers wanted the focus for the Bill to be about Government policy for agriculture, rather than looking more widely at the issues impacting landlords and tenants,” said Mr Dunn.

The consultation on tenancy reform concluded in early July. The TFA has also been lobbying throughout the House of Commons stages of the current Bill, arguing that changes to agricultural policy cannot be made without ensuring farm tenants are not disenfranchised from the new arrangements. Difficult contractual and legislative obstacles stand in the way for farm tenants.

“Had the existing Agriculture Bill been allowed to complete its course without significant amendment, farm tenants were in danger of being left out in the cold. We have been grateful to MPs including Dr David Drew, Neil Parish and Helen Goodman for tabling important amendments for consideration by the House. We hope that the Government has taken note of these amendments as it seeks to resurrect the Bill in the next session of Parliament,” he concluded.