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TFA e-News 12 April

DEFRA 2015

DEFRA and the Welsh Government set out Radical Proposals for Reforms to Agricultural Tenancy Legislation

Following the extensive recommendations made by the Tenancy Reform Industry Group in the autumn of 2017, DEFRA and the Welsh Government have now come forward with separate, but similar, consultations seeking views on many of the changes proposed. The consultations remain open for 12 weeks until 02 July and, of course TFA and TFA Cymru will be submitting responses. However, TFA members, both farming and professional, should also take the opportunity to look at the proposals and submit their views. We would be delighted to receive any thoughts from members in advance of the production of our own responses. The full consultation document from DEFRA can be viewed by clicking here. There is also an executive summary available here. The Welsh Government consultation can be viewed by clicking here.

DEFRA 2015

New Units of Production Order for Succession Applications in England

DEFRA has confirmed the publication of the delayed Agricultural Holdings (Units of Production) Order for England which comes into force on 23 April. It is Statutory Instrument 2019 No. 769 and can be viewed by clicking here. The figures contained within the Order are used for determining the Commercial Unit Test for eligibility of candidates for succession on agricultural tenancies let under the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986. The Order has no application to Farm Business Tenancies, under the Agricultural Tenancies Act 1995, or any other aspect of tenancy legislation including rent reviews.

A commercial unit of agricultural land is defined as being a unit of agricultural land which is capable of producing, if farmed under competent management, a net annual income which is not less than the sum of the average earnings of two full-time, male agricultural workers aged 20 or over. The Order specifies the net annual income which forms the basis of the assessment. The results will invariably differ from the actual income position on the holding being considered. Tribunals are also permitted to take into consideration other evidence when they believe the Units of Production Order is not relevant to individual cases. If based on this assessment, the potential successor is deemed to be in occupation of a commercial unit, other than the holding to which he or she has applied for succession, then they will not be able to succeed to the subject tenancy. The order for Wales was produced earlier in the year and can be viewed by clicking here.

It should be noted that if the proposal to abolish the Commercial Unit Test in the tenancy reform consultations referred to above was taken forward, there will be no further need for the Government to produce these Units of Production orders.

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TFA Discusses Stewardship Shambles with Chair of EFRA Select Committee

Although some participants in the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England will be in receipt of bridging payments in respect of delayed scheme payments, in the coming days, others will be left out. We are also aware that individuals still awaiting overdue payments, under legacy Environmental Stewardship schemes, have been completely left out of receiving anything. Sadly, the administration of these schemes has descended into chaos and not only is this having a direct impact on the cash flow of individual businesses, but it is threatening to undermine confidence in scheme delivery to the extent that many farm businesses are considering whether they should participate in future schemes.

The TFA is in constant dialogue with the RPA and Natural England over these issues. It has also met with the Chair of the Environment Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, Neil Parish MP, to brief him on the current situation. We have asked Neil to consider holding a special evidence session to get to the bottom of what has gone wrong and to extract commitments from the RPA and Natural England on improvements to their service to the farming community. Several TFA members have also asked to what extent there might be a legal claim against the Government for breach of contract. TFA is investigating what might be possible.

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TFA Presses Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP to Investigate Making Tax Digital

In November of last year, the TFA joined with other representative bodies in writing to the Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP, in her role as Chair of the Treasury Select Committee asking her to call the Financial Secretary to the Treasury in front of her Committee to answer criticisms for the way in which the Government has implemented its policy for Making Tax Digital, in respect of VAT. Frustratingly, no response has been received to that letter. TFA has now pressed again for her to take action, even though the new regime came into effect at the beginning of this month. Many tenant farmers lack the necessary access to the software required to comply with the new rules, forcing many to have to pay professionals to submit VAT claims on their behalf. The TFA has argued that this is an added financial burden on farm businesses at a time when they can least afford it.

Germinate Lecture 2019

TFA CEO to Talk at Germinate Lecture 2019

There are still tickets left to hear the Germinate Lecture 2019 with George Dunn, TFA Chief Executive, on Wednesday 15 May. Starting 10am at King’s Park Conference Centre, Northampton, the event theme is: Salt, Light and Feet of Clay: Celebrating the ministry of lay people.

Tickets cost £20, which includes lunch and refreshments. For more information, go to, email or phone 024 7485 3066. Book tickets via Eventbrite here.

Caroline Foot Head shot Cropped

Caroline Foot, TFA Adviser

TFA Guidance Tips

Caroline Foot, TFA Adviser, highlights topical TFA Guidance Notes available FREE to TFA members.

Investment in fixed equipment is essential on any farm holding, including tenanted holdings. This could be anything from replacing the milking parlour, to expanding grain storage, or to a new sheep shed. Some tenants may get the agreement of their landlord to contribute to the cost, others will need to contemplate making the investment themselves. Where the tenant invests themselves, it is important not to forget the landlord’s consent, which also links to how the investment will be treated at the end of the tenancy. Will the tenant be compensated for their investment, and will the compensation figure be written down over time? Or will they have the option to remove the fixed equipment and is it something that can be removed practically and cost-effectively?

All TFA Guidance Notes can be accessed via the member's area of the TFA website. Please click here to see the TFA’s Guidance Note “Agricultural Tenancies – Improvements and Fixtures” for information on the options for tenants investing in fixed equipment on their rented holdings. As always, do contact TFA head office to speak to an adviser if you have any questions or concerns, by calling 0118 930 6130.

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Member Offers

bira Bank - TFA Member Rates

Current interest rates for loans can be found by clicking here for details.

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The Northern Farmer

The Northern Farmer is pleased to be working with the TFA and is able to offer members of the TFA 15 issues of The Northern Farmer publication for the price of 12 issues (£12.00). To take advantage of this offer, please call TFA head office on 0118 930 6130 for the offer code.

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Wire Membership

The TFA and Women in Rural Enterprise (WiRE) are working together to help rural businesswomen. WiRE is a membership organisation which has been providing support to people running rural businesses since 1999. WiRE has members across the UK and a network of local groups who meet every month to share knowledge, information and ideas.

WiRE's office is at Harper Adams University, Shropshire. This small team of staff are 100% dedicated to helping rural business succeed. WiRE is all too aware of the many barriers faced by rural businesswomen and is very conscious of the need to offer specifically designed services to support its members on a realistic level. It is keen to help create and grow rural businesses, sustain and regenerate rural economies and put rural businesswomen on the political and business agenda.

A year's membership of WiRE costs £50.00. TFA members are being offered 3 months FREE. To take advantage of this offer, please call TFA head office on 0118 930 6130 for details of how to claim this offer.

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And Finally

Appointment of Members to the Cornwall Countryside Access Forum

Cornwall Council is currently looking to appoint new members to the Cornwall Countryside Access Forum. They are looking for enthusiastic, committed people, particularly farmers, landowners and estate managers, to help develop opportunities for public access to local countryside from July 2019.

Cornwall Countryside Access Forum provides advice to Cornwall Council and other appropriate bodies on how to make the countryside more accessible and enjoyable for open-air recreation. As a consequence, this helps to which also address social, economic and environmental issues.

If you are interested in access to the countryside in Cornwall, find out more by clicking here. Public meetings of the Forum are held four times a year, generally on a Tuesday afternoon. Attendance at working groups and site visits may also be necessary. Successful candidates will be appointed for a period of 3 years. Cornwall Council is required to ensure that there is a balance of users, landowners and other interests on the Forum. The appointments will be effective from the Forum's Annual Meeting to be held on Tuesday, 30 July 2019. The closing date for applications is Friday, 7 June 2019.

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