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Farming

Welcome evidence of longer farm tenancies

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THE TENANT FARMS ASSOCIATION has welcomed a report from the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV) indicating that there has been a significant improvement in the average length of Farm Business Tenancies (FBTs) in England and Wales.

Since the introduction of FBTs in 1995 the TFA has been concerned that average lengths of term have ranged between only 3 to 4 years. As a result the TFA launched the FBT10+ campaign in 2015, the 20th anniversary of the introduction of the new legislation, to argue that farm tenancies had been too short for too long and that urgent change was necessary.

The short-term nature of agricultural tenancies has held back progression, investment, sustainable land use and productivity on farms. With much higher demand for land than supply, landlords can offer short-terms, for high rents at very little risk whilst at the same time pocketing generous and unconstrained tax benefits which the TFA argues must be addressed.

TFA Chief Executive George Dunn said: “It is encouraging to see from the CAAV report that the average length of all FBTs has increased to 4.5 years and that excluding lettings of less than a year, the average was six years. This is a step in the right direction towards the goal of seeing average lengths of term in excess of 10 years and clearly the TFA’s campaign has had an impact in encouraging more sustainable tenancy lengths being brought forward. However still more needs to be done to encourage the landlord sector to offer the longer terms that we need to see.”

“The new Government must grasp the nettle to introduce measures to change the fiscal environment within which rural landlords make decisions about letting land to encourage longer term FBTs. The tenanted sector cannot begin to consider issues of resilience and sustainability in the post Brexit environment with average lengths of term on new FBTs of under 10 years,” said Mr Dunn.

The TFA is arguing for the following measures to be in the new Government’s first Budget:

(a) Restricting the generous, 100% Agricultural Property Relief from Inheritance Tax (currently available to all agricultural landlords, regardless of the length of time for which they let land) only to those landlords prepared to let farmland for 10 years or more (excluding rotationally let land on short terms for vegetable and other high value crops).

(b) Clamping down on those land owners who, through schemes promoted by agents and accountants, are using share farming, contract farming, share partnerships and grazing licences as thin veneers of trading activity and as vehicles for aggressive tax avoidance where they take no risk in the business, have little, if any, entrepreneurial input and lack any management control.

(c) Offering landlords prepared to let farm land for 10 years or more the ability to declare their income as if it was trading income for taxation purposes.

(d) Reforming Stamp Duty Land Tax to end the discrimination against longer farm tenancies.

“The TFA is pleased to see that the Government has reconvened the Tenancy Reform Industry Group and this must be a key element for it to consider alongside other important measures to provide a sustainable framework for the tenanted sector of agriculture in the post Brexit era,” said Mr Dunn.

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Farming

MP pledges support to British farmers

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MORE than 4,000 jobs in Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire rely on farming, Simon Hart MP learned during a special event to Back British Farming.

Farming in the constituency contributes £30.6 million to the local economy – on top of the safe, affordable food farmers produce and the British countryside they maintain.

In addition to its role producing food, farming also supports the work of other industries, such as vets, solicitors, surveyors and feed merchants.

The Back British Farming event in Westminster was held by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) as a rallying call to MPs to support farming – during a particularly crucial period for British farming as the Brexit negotiations begin.

Mr Hart said: “There are so many worthy reasons to support British farmers: they are responsible for securing our fantastic British food supply, looking after our world-renowned countryside and sustaining a dynamic rural economy. That is why I am proud to wear the NFU’s Back British Farming pin badge in Parliament today.

“These reasons are why I have pledged to Back British farming in Westminster and to ensure our decisions in Parliament reflect the strategic importance of British food and farming to the nation.

“As one of the sectors that will be most affected by Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, it is critical that as politicians we create the right regulatory environment to ensure our farmers can continue to provide the safe and affordable food that the public trust and demand.”

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Farming

MP signs pledge to Back British Farming

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STEPHEN CRABB MP has recognised the vital role that Pembrokeshire farmers have contributing to the economy, the countryside and food production as he pledged to Back British Farming at an event in Westminster this week.

Farming in Pembrokeshire contributes £32.6 million to the local economy and provides 4,570 jobs – this is on top of the safe, affordable food farmers produce and British countryside they maintain.

In addition to its role producing food, farming also supports the work of other local industries, such as vets, solicitors, surveyors and feed merchants.

The event in Westminster was held by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) as a rallying call to MPs to support farming – during a particularly crucial period for British farming as the Brexit negotiations begin.

Stephen Crabb MP said: “There are so many worthy reasons to support British farmers: they are responsible for securing our fantastic British food supply, looking after our world-renowned countryside and sustaining a dynamic rural economy. That is why I am proud to support the NFU’s Back British Farming campaign in Parliament.

“These reasons are why I have pledged to Back British farming in Westminster and to ensure our decisions in Parliament reflect the strategic importance of British food and farming to the nation.

“As one of the sectors that will be most affected by Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, it is critical that as politicians we create the right regulatory environment to ensure our farmers can continue to provide the safe and affordable food that the public trust and demand.”

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Farming

Backing Welsh farming at PMQs

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Speaking out for Welsh agriculture: Jonathan Edwards

PLAID CYMRU MP Jonathan Edwards has championed NFU Cymru’s Back Welsh Farming campaign during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons.

The Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP used economic data highlighting the financial contribution of farming to Wales, provided by NFU Cymru, to challenge Prime Minister Theresa May on the future trade prospects for Welsh farmers once the UK leaves the European Union.

Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions on September 13 – Back British Farming Day – Plaid Cymru’s Jonathan Edwards MP said: “Today is also Back Welsh Farming Day and NFU Cymru estimates that agriculture contributes 60,000 jobs in Wales, as well as half a billion pounds. How will farming be able to continue that contribution once the International Trade Secretary opens up domestic markets to lower food standards whilst simultaneously losing access to our main export market?”

In response, Prime Minister Theresa May stated she was pleased to support farmers in Wales. The Prime Minster said that the Government was looking to leave the European Union with ‘a good trade deal that will continue to enhance trade to take place on a basis that is as friction-free and tariff-free as possible’. She also expressed her belief that exiting the European Union will present Welsh farmers with opportunities to export their produce across the rest of the world.

Jonathan Edwards MP was one of a number of Welsh MPs wearing specially-designed wheat and wool pin badges to show support for the NFU’s Back British Farming Day.

The campaign saw farmers from across Wales write to their MP to highlight why farming is so important to their constituency and Wales as a whole.

NFU Cymru President Stephen James said: “The contribution of food and farming to Wales is extremely important. It is critical to have the support of MPs recognising the value of the sector. Across Wales, farming underpins food production, the countryside and the rural economy. For the future of the nation’s farming sector, the support of politicians is crucial to ensure that our industry receives the best deal possible after Brexit.

“We are grateful to all the Welsh MPs who wore their wheat and wool pin badges to champion the cause of farmers back home in Wales. It was fantastic to see so many MPs showing their support for the industry. We are particularly grateful to Jonathan Edwards for raising his question to the Prime Minister today – it is important that we have voices in the House of Commons who are willing to raise the profile of Welsh farming and champion our cause.”

Speaking after Prime Minister’s Questions, Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP Jonathan Edwards, said: “Sadly in her answer to me the Prime Minister talks of fantasy trade deals around the world, forgetting that a staggering 90% of Welsh food and drink export produce goes to EU countries. This isn’t going to be replaced overnight.”

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