Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : Independent review provides recommendations to improve support for tenant farmers [October 2022]

The press release issued by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on 13 October 2022.

A new independent review has published its recommendations on how landlords, tenants and government can work together to deliver a resilient and productive agricultural tenanted sector.

The Rock Review was commissioned by Defra in January to look at how to provide better support to tenant farmers and tenancies as the government seeks to drive growth and sustainability across the farming sector and rural communities. The Tenancy Working Group, who produced the report, consisted of stakeholders from all parts of the tenanted sector including tenants, landlords and agents.

Published today, the review is clear on the essential role of tenant farmers in delivering our environmental targets, food security, and a growing rural economy. With tenant farmers being stewards on holdings that cover more than half of farmable land in England, this group of farmers need to have access to government schemes.

The review makes a series of recommendations to government to enable the tenanted sector to deliver sustainable food production, meet the challenges of climate change, and improve and enhance biodiversity. The recommendations cover a range of areas, including public schemes, landlord-tenant relationships and new entrants.

Environment Secretary Ranil Jayawardena said:

I would like to thank Baroness Rock and her team for providing their analysis of the issues and opportunities facing tenant farmers in England.

The review is right to set out the importance of having a thriving tenanted sector if we are to deliver growth in our rural economy and unlock farmers’ potential to improve the environment. We will be looking closely at its recommendations.

As we look at how we best deliver our environmental schemes, we will make sure that the needs of tenant farmers remain central to our plans.

Baroness Kate Rock said:

This review provides a clear vision for the agricultural tenanted sector in England that Defra can and should adopt. The recommendations, when taken together, actively move the sector towards a position where tenant farmers operate resilient, successful, and thriving businesses.

Some recommendations can be more immediately delivered by Defra such as changes to scheme design that would expand the opportunities for tenant farmers to access support for improving the environment alongside producing food.

Other recommendations are more structural. These will put the tenanted sector on a more resilient footing as we move through the agricultural transition. They will encourage tenant farmers and landlords to collaborate and invest in productivity, improve the environment and drive growth in the rural economy.

The Tenancy Working Group was formed to provide tenant farmers and associated stakeholders a further opportunity to make sure the new environmental schemes work within agricultural tenancies.

The government will publish a formal response to the review in due course.