A Conservative peer has warned tenants and graziers could be excluded from farm support after Brexit if changes are not made to the Agriculture Bill.
Anne McIntosh, who has twice held the post of Shadow Defra Minster, sounded the alarm in her latest contribution to Farmers Guardian’s Brexit hub.
Her comments came shortly after Shadow Agriculture Minister David Drew tabled an amendment to the Agriculture Bill which would enable tenants to pursue any objection from a landlord to carrying out agri-environmental work to arbitration or expert determination.
Baroness McIntosh said: “I am deeply concerned about the future of tenant farmers and especially graziers on common land.
“If in the future plans being worked up by Defra we are only rewarding farmers for growing trees of creating dams and peat bogs on their land, this will exclude hill farmers who are normally tenants and those who do not own the land on which they farm from support.”
Chairman of the Tenant Farmers’ Association (TFA) James Gray expressed similar concerns.
He said: “New young entrants to agriculture are the future lifeblood of farming and for many, the only way into the industry is through grazing cattle or sheep on short-term grass rental agreements.
“It is vital these enthusiastic farmers of the future do not have the rug pulled from under them by some of the more misguided environmental policies which, as well as appearing to put more emphasis on planting trees rather than producing food, are very often simply not available to short-term tenants.”
The TFA has asked the Government to support Mr Drew’s amendment in the House of Commons, but as of the end of January had received no assurance it would be accepted.
Baroness McIntosh promised she will continue to fight for changes to the Agriculture Bill which will support the position of tenant farmers when the legislation reaches the House of Lords.
To read Baroness McIntosh’s article in full, click HERE.