THE Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) has called for early clarity in the new year on the Government’s plans for the future of farm policy.

James Gray, national chairman, said: "We are fast approaching the point where farmers need to have clarity about the direction of travel."

With the new year publication of the Government’s 25-year plan for the environment, followed by a White Paper on food and farming and then an Agriculture Bill, he said they must set out a clear roadmap, which enables farmers to understand the policy environment within which they will be expected to operate to enable individual farm businesses to plan ahead.

Mr Gray said: "Inevitably, since the EU referendum in June 2016, it has felt like we have marked time in farming as we await some clear signals about the way ahead.

"The lower value of Sterling will have delivered output price improvements for some sectors and although some input prices will have moved up too, this will have provided something of a cushion for many businesses as they await clarity over the long term position which we now need urgently.

"Of course, there will always be uncertainty but with farm businesses having already factored in the expectation of major change in Government policy, it is no surprise that decisions around investment, growth and succession for some and potential exit for others are on hold until the shape of future public policy becomes clearer."

The continuing uncertainty from Government is also causing landlords to take a short-term approach following advice from their agents to await further details of Government policy.

"The TFA has always argued that the level of rent paid by the tenant is the landlord’s return and with an appropriate review mechanism, this can increase or decrease in accordance with the fortunes of farming. It is inappropriate for landlords to capitalise directly from whatever support the Government decides is appropriate for the agricultural industry," said Mr Gray.

"Any support must be accessed by active farmers only and not by those who are passively involved simply through the letting of land.

"Landlords should let for the long term rather than speculating based on the advice of their agents who so often push short tenancies on standard terms at high levels of rent without a proper analysis of what is required either by their clients or by the tenants with whom their clients are working."