Farmers’ union says Labour’s lack of agriculture budget plans in manifesto “deeply disappointing”

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Lambs in field

In recent months, these three political parties have all recognised the importance of food security to our national security, and the NFU, which has long campaigned on this issue, has welcomed the fact that the three parties have included this in their manifestos.

Some of the NFU’s key asks have been:

  • A commitment to a UK agricultural budget that underpins sustainable domestic food production, delivers for the environment and supports all land tenures. We believe a UK agricultural budget of £5.5 billion would deliver this.
  • Developing core production standards that apply to all agri-food imports.
  • Establishing a new food security index and target, including a statutory duty to monitor and report on domestic food production levels each year.
  • A smooth and seamless transition to new environmental schemes that are open to all farmers and growers, less bureaucratic and ensure profitable long-term food-producing businesses.
  • A commitment to source 50% of food into the public sector from British farms.

Manifesto highlights that the NFU particularly welcomes include both Liberal Democrat and Conservative commitments to increasing a protected UK agriculture budget by £1 billion, Labour’s commitment to promote the highest standards when it comes to food imports and the Conservative promise to introduce a legally binding target to enhance our food security.

However, there is no mention of an agriculture budget in the Labour manifesto, something NFU President Tom Bradshaw said was “deeply disappointing”.

In other areas, the NFU welcomed all three parties’ commitments to support British food producers by increasing public sector sourcing from British farms, with the Conservatives and Labour promising to source at least 50% of public sector food locally or to higher environmental standards.

NFU President Tom Bradshaw said: “There are plenty of positives across the three manifestos, and it’s clear that our constructive and open lobbying on many areas has been listened to.

“But the single most vital element is the agricultural budget. This isn’t just ‘money for farmers’, it’s the funding which helps the sector transition away from the old EU system, allows farm businesses to invest for the future and makes governments’ aims around sustainable food production, food security, the environment and net zero possible.

“It’s funding to help underpin the UK’s largest manufacturing sector – food and drink – which contributes more than £128 billion to the national economy and provides jobs for four million people.

“Our members will welcome the Lib Dem and Conservative commitments to increase the UK agriculture budget by £1 billion and protect it.

“The language around bovine TB in Labour’s manifesto – in which they claim the badger cull has been ‘ineffective’ – is incredibly unhelpful. It disregards the latest science showing a 56% decline in this awful disease – which we should remember kills thousands of cattle a year – and disrespects the incredible efforts our members have made to try and deliver TB eradication by 2038.”

Mr Bradshaw added: “We are continuing to engage with candidates across all parties to highlight the importance of a thriving homegrown food sector, and the need for resilient and profitable farming and growing businesses to underpin it.”

You can read all of the NFU’s policy asks in its general election manifesto: Farming for Britain’s Future

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