NFU to press new government on manifesto pledges

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The NFU is poised to put forward farming’s priorities at our MP reception on 18 July.

Responding to Labour’s election victory, NFU President Tom Bradshaw called it a “reset moment” for British agriculture as the NFU looks to work with the new government “to drive our sector forward and grow”.

Tom added: “Labour’s manifesto recognised that food security is national security, but it is business confidence which forms the foundation of this.

“With British farmers and growers ambitious for the future, what they – and the public – need are practical policies that revitalise farm business confidence and deliver on our shared mission of food security.

“In a cost-of-living crisis, our ability to provide affordable, climate-friendly and high-welfare food will be critical for families across the country, as well as underpinning the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, food and drink, and stimulating economic growth.”

“Labour’s manifesto recognised that food security is national security, but it is business confidence which forms the foundation of this.”

Farm finances

Tom said the number one priority for the new Labour government must be to set an increased multi-year agriculture budget for the duration of the next parliament.

“This is about investing in the future of British farming – in homegrown food, in the environment and in renewable energy,” Tom said.

Independent work from the Andersons Centre commissioned by the NFU has suggested an annual budget in England of around £4 billion is needed to meet environmental goals, driving productivity and support the economic stability of agricultural businesses.

Respecting the nature of devolved government, the NFU estimate this would translate to a UK-wide budget of around £5.6 billion.

This will allow a fair transition away from the old EU system, to one that delivers public good for public funds, gives farmers the confidence to invest, and makes the government’s aims around sustainable food production, food security, the environment and net zero possible.

The new Secretary of State should also commit to a more transparent transition that ensures all stakeholders can share and support Defra’s plans.

This means Defra publishing its impact assessment for the transition, including for the uplands, sharing its annual budget plans and urgently reviewing ELMs (Environmental Land Management schemes) to ensure they are accessible to all tenures and sectors.

Ensuring environment land management schemes ‘work for farmers and nature’ is another pledge which the NFU President said “we will want to see actioned”.

In the past, the NFU has been reassured to hear Steve Reed confirm the party had no plans to change inheritance tax including Agricultural Property Relief.

Other, procurement, trade and water commitments the NFU will raise are;

  • The pledge for half of all food purchased across the public sector to be locally produced. The NFU will press for legislation on this as soon as possible
  • The capacity of the HSE Chemicals Regulation Division to provide prompt, scientifically robust risk-based plant protection product approvals
  • The commitment to a trade strategy that promotes the ‘highest standards of food production’, something we have long called for. We look forward to working with the government to develop this
  • The new government’s ambition to improve water quality and to mitigate the devastating impact of flooding, plus the availability of water for the irrigation of crops must also be prioritised
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