‘Rent out more farm land for longer’, Eustice says

Farming Minister George Eustice.
Farming Minister George Eustice.
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FARMING MINISTER George Eustice says landowners should be encouraged to let out more farm land and for longer to improve routes into farming.

Speaking at the annual NFU National Tenant Farmers’ Conference, in Newbury, West Berkshire, today the Minister will argue that creating more opportunities to rent productive land would help overcome a shortage of chances for newcomers to get into farming.

Meanwhile, increasing longer-term tenancies would give more tenant farmers the security they need to build up their business.

The Tenant Farmers Association has led a campaign for longer rental agreements for some time. In September, the TFA’s chief executive George Dunn wrote in The Yorkshire Post that Farm Business Tenancies, introduced in 1995 to encourage more letting of agricultural land, were too short, and he called for such tenancies to last, on average, for ten years or more.

Farming Minister Mr Eustice, speaking ahead of his appearance at today’s conference, said: “Farming a third of all agricultural land in England, tenant farmers are important producers of high-quality products steeped in the heritage of Great British farming.

“They are a vital part of our long-term food and farming plan and increasingly new entrants are entrepreneurial, spotting business opportunities and different ways of doing things, and we need to support and encourage this innovation.

“I also want us to think innovatively about other ways we can open up opportunities for people to make a career in our £100billion food and farming industry because without a vibrant primary farming sector the supply chain is vulnerable.”

The Minister will also use his appearance today to say the Government’s long-term food and farming strategy will support growth in the food and farming industry by developing the British brand as a mark recognised as high quality with high animal welfare standards, winning new export markets and using new technology to reduce costs and improve profitability.

Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss announced a separate campaign yesterday that aims to bring together Britain’s “food and drink pioneers” for the first time to help Britain become a “Great Food Nation”.

Top chefs Raymond Blanc and Ken Hom joined entrepreneurs and food leaders to launch the five-year campaign at the British Museum of Food in London’s Borough Market.

Explaining what she wants to achieve through the campaign, Miss Truss said: “I want to harness the talent of the UK’s food pioneers to banish outdated stereotypes and ensure that British produce is people’s first choice to eat here and abroad.

“With the help of our pioneers, we can continue to build on the success of our food and drink exports, which have doubled over the past decade, to encourage even more companies to sell Great British produce around the world.”

Her five-year ‘Great British Food’ campaign was welcomed by the National Farmers’ Union.

NFU president Meurig Raymond said: “We are glad to see Government and leading food pioneers backing this campaign which will highlight the importance of backing British Farming.

“Anything which can showcase British farming and farmers, not just for they food they produce, but for the value the British farming industry adds to the economy, employment and our beautiful and diverse countryside is a step in the right direction.”

Mr Raymond added: “The British public have told us time and time again that they want to buy British and we hope that this campaign will help them to increasingly have that option in the future.”