Politicians urged to back UK farming policies in new NFU manifesto

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An NFU manifesto published ahead of the next general election urges all political parties to back policies supporting British farming, among major asks for more focus on British food, environment, communities, and the agricultural budget.

The manifesto includes research from More in Common, commissioned by the NFU, across England and Wales. 84% of responders think food production targets are as, if not more important than environmental farming targets, and 82% thought the government should increase food production targets. 2/3 of responders said that parties’ long-term food and farming plans will be a voting factor for them in the next election.

See also: Defra direction on sugar negotiations delights NFU

Supporting these concerns, the manifesto calls for the next government to match existing environment and climate mitigation strategies to targets for British food security.

NFU president Minette Batters said: “Food is something that connects us all – we cannot live without it. All our research shows that the British people really value our farmers and growers for the work they do day-in, day-out, to feed the nation. Their support has been vital during the turbulence of the past few years with the Covid pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the cost-of-living crisis and increasing periods of drought and flooding.

She said that shoppers want to have access to high-quality, environmentally-friendly food, but that “record” food production costs mean that policies need to be created through the lens of food production.

“We must not fall into the trap that we can simply import our food needs from other countries – we’ve seen that approach fail before with empty supermarket shelves and we know there is strong public opinion against importing food from elsewhere produced in ways that would be illegal here. That’s why we are asking for targets for British food production, just as the government has rightly legislated for targets on the environment, green energy and climate change. Food has to be given the same status.

She concluded that farm businesses are the “beating heart” of rural communities, and that farming contributes billions to the economy.

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