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Sara Sumner

Sara Sumner is an adviser with the Tenant Farmers Association (TFA).

My role as an adviser with the TFA is divided into two main areas – providing advice to members and representing tenant farmers on policy matters in England and Wales. The majority of the advice that I provide is via telephone, e-mail and letter, so I am predominantly office based. Members often ask for technical advice on their tenancies and occupation such as succession, rent reviews and repairs and maintenance liabilities. I also advise on agricultural subsidies and environmental schemes, ever changing and very important areas.  I have to keep up to date with policy updates and developments that may affect our members in both England and Wales and brief our members accordingly.

The part of my role that involves representing our members is very interesting, as I have to attend national stakeholder meetings with government departments such as the Rural Payments Agency, Rural Payments Wales and Natural England. This gives us an opportunity to raise our concerns and equally gives us the ‘heads up’ on things that are happening.

A typical working week for me would be spending a 2-3 days in the office speaking to members, checking tenancy agreements, liaising with colleagues and providing advice. I often have a meeting or two to attend each week, usually in London, Reading or Wales, discussing policy. I also attend agricultural shows and members’ meetings, which are good ways of meeting members. The best part of my job is to know that I have been able to provide helpful advice to a member when they are in a difficult and stressful position. It is very gratifying to know that you have made someone’s life easier through your knowledge and understanding.

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