FARMING subsidies are set to change from year to year, says the government in a surprise announcement.

Farming minister Victoria Prentis made the announcement at the first session of the NFU Tenant Farmers' Conference held this week.

The Minister of State for Farming, Fisheries and Food was taking part in a question-and-answer session with NFU vice-president Tom Bradshaw when she said a new mindset was needed, as behaviours that the government wants farmers to engage with might not be known at the time of writing the Sustainable Farming Incentive.

The minister also spoke about the important role of tenant farmers in food production, said the sector has a vibrant future and that the government is backing British farming.

The conference, held virtually for the first time, started with a speech from NFU president Minette Batters who spoke about future trade deals and the current challenging issues of labour across different sectors before finishing on the agricultural transition and how tenant farmers will be impacted by future schemes and policies such as Environmental Land Management.

Mrs Batters said she was aware of the huge concerns amongst tenant farmers at losing the ‘active farmer’ requirement and explained the reasoning for calling for the transition to be delayed and why the NFU is calling on Defra to carry out a review of SFI.

With more than 300 NFU members registered for the conference, the political session also heard from Labour’s Daniel Zeichner, MP, Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).

Mr Zeichner said that farming and food production was high up the political agenda and that his party gave voters in rural constituencies a viable alternative to the Conservatives.

He explained that his party’s Rural Policy Review would continue into the new tear with the aim of offering as much hope to rural communities as to people living in towns and cities. He said the focus would be on a stronger rural economy, digital technology and would include an expansion of broadband and better transport links.

He said that the government’s current policy of signing trade deals and importing more food produced to lower standards would eventually put many smaller tenanted farms out of business.

Mr Zeichner ended by saying that a tenanted sector is needed that works for new, young people wanting to enter the industry and that collaboration with landlords is key.

The final session of day one saw tenants and landlords talk about the importance of collaboration to meet the challenges of agricultural transition and climate change. Speakers included Peter Coddington from Yorkshire Water, Rachel Hallos, NFU member and Yorkshire West Riding chairman and NFU South West member Robin Milton.

On the second day the conference heard from the NFU tenants’ forum chairman Chris Cardell, Janet Hughes, programme director for Defra’s Future Farming and Countryside Programme, and Helen Drinkall NFU Next Generation Forum and hill farmer.