15 March 2002

Diversification rules OK

A CHANGE in legislation allowing more tenant farmers to diversify or take up agri-environment schemes could occur within 18 months, says the Tenant Farmers Association.

Chairman, Reg Haydon, said government leaders had reacted sympathetically to the TFAs campaign for a change in the law applying to the definition of agriculture in the 1986 Agricultural Holdings Act.

Addressing north-east TFA members at the start of a countrywide tour earlier this week, he said the organisation was lobbying for new tax incentives to persuade landlords to offer longer tenancies.

"The Court of Appeal has recently ruled that tenants holding agreements with their landlords which allow for agricultural activity only are restricted to growing crops and keeping animals," said Mr Haydon.

"The main stumbling block remains the definition of the word agriculture in tenancy legislation. This must be updated if tenants are not to be left behind as private farms diversify and take advantage of environmental schemes." &#42