The Rock Review should be compulsory reading for farm policy makers here

​The report produced last autumn by Baroness Kate Rock and the members of her Tenancy Working Group for England has tremendous import, I believe, for farming in Northern Ireland.
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While the work carried out by the group looks specifically at the structures of the farming industry in England, their recommendations resonate across the UK.

The recommendations within the report focus, to a large extent, on how best to manage transition and generational change within the farming sectors.

And in this context, specific proposals to the effect that tax changes must be made to further facilitate this process.

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How often have we heard those involved with Northern Ireland’s land mobility programme calling for tax changes of this type only to be told by DAERA officials that matters of this nature are not devolved.

They can only be addressed officially at Treasury level.

However, the Rock Review changes the dynamic of this debate. What we now have is a working group, established by DEFRA in London, calling for changes at Exchequer level that will have a direct and beneficial impact on the core issue of driving generational change within agriculture.

In practical terms this means that Westminster must officially respond to the report.

In other words, the issue of tax reform is on the agenda at the very heart of the UK government.

Up to this point, Northern Ireland has been a voice crying in the wilderness, where these matters are concerned.

We all know that the average ‘farmer age’ in Northern Ireland is far too high.

We need lots more young people coming into the industry.

Sustainability is the buzz word that comes up in every conversation that is had right now, where the future of farming is concerned.

And I would strongly argue that we need a sustainable population of young people working within the industry to generate the future that we all want to see evolving, both for them and the sector as a whole.