Joint guidance on environmental schemes

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The Country Land and Business Association and Tenant Farmers Association have issued joint guidance designed to help their respective members in England navigate the agricultural transition away from the Common Agricultural Policy.

The advice, published this week, aims to provide tenants and landowners with clarity on how to make the most of new public and private sector environmental schemes whether within existing agricultural tenancies or when considering new tenancies.

The agriculture sector is facing the biggest set of changes to domestic policy in living memory, as subsidy schemes are phased out and replaced with new Environmental Land Management schemes. These will reward land managers for helping to mitigate climate change and enhance nature.

Transition will be fraught

The CLA and TFA have long recognised that the transition towards these new schemes will be fraught with risk for all those involved in farming, and thus resolved to work together to ensure their members were supported through the process.

The core principles of the joint guidance are:

  • The person delivering the environmental goods or services, whether paid for by the private or public sector, should be entitled to receive payment, unless they are acting as a contractor or employee.
  • The transition from current to future environmental schemes should be managed so as to achieve the best outcomes for members and for the environment.
  • There must be clarity over who is entering into agreements or contracts to deliver environmental outcomes, to avoid the risk of inadvertent double funding or incompatible contracts.
  • Landlords and tenants can deliver more environmental outcomes and unlock additional marriage value from environmental investment by working together.

Country Land and Business Association president Mark Tufnell said: “All sectors of the industry must be allowed to benefit from the new government schemes, and we are certain that proactive collaboration between landowner and tenant will always achieve the best outcome – for the individuals concerned, for the environment and for the wider population.

“The challenge facing farmers today should not be understated, and we need to work together to navigate the extraordinary change taking place. Across the country, landowners and tenants are already working together both to feed the nation and to maintain the environment. This guidance encourages both parties to build on those relationships, and to begin the conversation about how these new government schemes can work in practice.”

Much to be gained from working together

Tenant Farmers Association national chairman, Mark Coulman said:“There is so much to be gained from landlords and tenants working together to achieve combined outcomes that will bring joint benefits. The guidance produced by the CLA and TFA provides a framework for cooperation and an approach which seeks to avoid confrontation and dispute. It will be particularly important for agents advising both landlords and tenants to work constructively towards facilitating agreements that will allow participation in the new schemes being developed. Whilst legal remedies are available to parties who cannot agree, their use must be seen as sub-optimal. Although the guidance is addressed specifically to the members of both organisations, it is very much hoped that it will be of benefit more widely”.

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