Home Business News Agriculture is on a ‘knife edge’ and Political parties told ‘rural vote is up for grabs’

Agriculture is on a ‘knife edge’ and Political parties told ‘rural vote is up for grabs’

5th Jun 24 3:23 pm

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) president Tom Bradshaw is urging political parties that the sector is on a “knife edge” and they must back Britain’s food production.

Bradshaw is calling for whoever is next in Downing Street to invest in farmers and support them with food production.

He has called for a budget of £5.5 billion a year saying that this is the “correct level” to meet target to support sustainable production for food in the UK.

Bradshaw has called on measures to stop imports of food which does not meet the UK’s legal standards, PA news agency reported.

Labour is ahead of the Tories in some rural constituencies, according to polling and Bradshaw said that the “rural vote is up for grabs.”

Bradshaw, who is a former farmer, said the sector has suffered a lot over the last years with high inflation, damaged crops caused by the weather and the war in Ukraine which has also caused confidence to fall amongst the farming community.

Bradshaw said, “When you couple that with the challenges of climate change, I think what members are seeing on the ground is some of the most exceptional conditions that we’ve seen, probably for a generation.

“We’ve had nine months of exceptionally wet weather which started last harvest.”

The NFU would like to see the parties standing in the General Election to introduce policies that will boost food production and install confidence in the sector.

Bradshaw told the PA news agency, “I think we are at an absolutely pivotal time.

“It’s quite exciting because if there is a party that really demonstrates that they are willing to invest in agriculture and the food supply chain, and rebuild that confidence, then we have a crucial role to play in delivering for economic growth, particularly in our rural communities, but also in the role we can play for climate change.

“It’s one of those times where I do feel things are on a knife-edge, but if we do get the right support, then I think we’ve got all to play for.”

The NFU are calling for a “more of an environmental budget” as subsidies have moved to the “environmental land management” (Elm) system.

The Elm system is how payments are managed to deliver public services such as clean water and habitats and healthy soil.

“The correct level of investment will enable the delivery of the legislated environmental targets while also supporting sustainable food production,” he said.

“If we only focus on the legislated environmental targets, then I think it will leave our food supply chains very vulnerable.”

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