What will Agriculture “mean” in the Future?
There are different definitions of “Agriculture” used throughout planning policy and tenancy law through to the Basic Payment Scheme. The definition of “Agriculture” remains largely production focussed in agricultural tenancies (both Agricultural Holdings Act and Farm Business Tenancies,) and also in planning legislation. An introduction of “public goods” in the draft Agriculture Bill 2018 presumably will involve an extension to the current definition to include a wider range of uses given that there is no mention of growing crops or rearing animals for food production. Will tenants be able to claim under the Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) and avoid a breach of the terms of their tenancies and planning legislation?
Similar issues arise in respect to the Rules of Good Husbandry which remain as they were in 1947. We are now seeing some long-term Farm Business Tenancies coming to an end where landlords are given permission for the holding to be organic and highlighting the issue of compensation payable (by the landlord to the tenant) for the increased value of an established organic farm, but offset against the cost to eradicate inevitable weed infestation (which could take years to eradicate) where tenants have not treated or costed in the expensive organic weed control needed. With the introduction of public goods however there remains no mention of food production as such (at the time of writing) in the draft Agriculture Bill, and will give rise to some interesting scenarios which will need to be worked through.