George Eustice© Tim Scrivener/Rex Shutterstock

Defra minister George Eustice has called for longer farmland tenancies, saying doing so would encourage more people into the industry.

Mr Eustice was speaking at the NFU’s annual Tenant Farmers Conference, held at Newbury Racecourse, Berkshire, on Wednesday (4 November).

Landowners should be encouraged to let out more land for longer periods for farming because tenancy arrangements offered an important route for people into the industry, he said.

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Creating more opportunities to rent productive land would help overcome a shortage of opportunities for newcomers to get into farming, said Mr Eustice.

Meanwhile, increasing longer-term tenancies would give more tenant farmers the security they needed to help build up their business.

Mr Eustice said: “Farming a third of all agricultural land in England, tenant farmers are important producers of high-quality products steeped in the heritage of Great British farming.

“They are a vital part of our long-term food and farming plan.”

He added: “Increasingly, new entrants are entrepreneurial, spotting business opportunities and different ways of doing things, and we need to support and encourage this innovation.”

Mr Eustice said he wanted the industry to think innovatively about other ways of opening up opportunities for people to make a career in the food and farming industry.

“Without a vibrant primary farming sector the supply chain is vulnerable,” he said.

As well as attracting new talent to the farming industry and supporting new enterprises, the government’s long-term food and farming strategy would support growth in the sector.

Mr Eustice said the strategy would develop the British brand as a mark recognised as high quality with high animal welfare standards.

It would also win new export markets, and encourage the use of new technology to reduce costs and improve profitability.