Tenants being pressured into joining Landscape Recovery scheme

Tenant farmers across England have been “cajoled” and even “duped” into signing up for Defra’s Landscape Recovery scheme.

Farmers Weekly understands the practices are taking place in multiple areas, but will not reveal the locations in order to protect the identity of the tenants involved.

There is also a fear among tenants that some larger landlords, such as the National Trust, will use Landscape Recovery to pursue a destocking agenda.

See also: Round Two Landscape Recovery confirmed


Those on short-term tenancies are understood to be under the most pressure, with some land being re-let on condition that any new tenant signs up to the scheme.

In order to participate, landowners had to complete an “expression of interest”, which included the signatures of their tenants.

One source said: “Imagine if you were a farmer represented in a bid that had been put in by your landlord. Would you feel freely able to talk?

“If you were a tenant and they were hell bent on doing something, you might, in Defra’s eyes, have the opportunity to challenge it.

“But let’s be honest. What tenant would say to his landlord anything really meaningful and be taken notice of? They wouldn’t. It stinks.”


Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) chief executive George Dunn told Farmers Weekly he had raised the issue with Defra officials in two recent meetings and they were working to resolve it.

“What we’ve heard from members is some have felt cajoled into signing up,” he said.

“Some felt they have been signed up without their knowledge and others feel they haven’t been given sufficient information about why they’ve been asked to sign up, but they’ve done so willingly.

“We certainly are concerned that farm tenants are not being adequately brought into conversations in order to have a proper collegiate approach.”

However, a spokesman for the National Trust insisted that it did not put pressure on its tenants to join Landscape Recovery, and was adamant that it did not have a policy to reduce stocking rates on its farms.

“We see the government’s Landscape Recovery scheme as an opportunity for tenant farmers to receive enhanced payments through the security of long-term agreements for their part in delivering ambitious nature restoration projects,” he said.

“There is no pressure on any of our tenant farmers to sign up to these voluntary pilots. And as we help farmers transition to more nature-friendly practices, we will discuss the optimal stocking level for the land in question.

“In some places this may mean different or fewer stock, but we will support farmers through any potential changes.”

A Defra spokesperson said: “Landscape Recovery projects must demonstrate they have support from tenants before they can join the scheme.

“If they cannot meet our requirements throughout the process, they risk being removed from the scheme.

“We are in contact with the Tenant Farmers Association on this issue and want to see landlords maintaining their tenancies and working collaboratively with tenants to access our schemes.

“We encourage any issues from tenants and other land managers to be raised with us directly.”

Landscape Recovery

Landscape Recovery is the third of three tiers in the Environmental Land Management scheme, with participants delivering a range of environmental and climate outcomes across a landscape scale.

Applications are competitive, with successful projects for round two announced in November last year. 

In total, some 34 projects were approved, covering about 200,00ha and attracting funding of £25m.