Farmers organisations welcome a ‘reset moment for British agriculture’

Farmers’ organisations have broadly welcomed the new government and said that they look forward to working with Labour to help deliver its missions for Britain by boosting national food security, contributing to economic growth and driving environmental benefits.

Soil Association CEO Helen Browning said, “[Labour’s] manifesto made clear their desire to improve access to nature, promote biodiversity, decarbonise the energy system, and protect our landscapes and wildlife while supporting farmers to shift to more sustainable and nature-friendly farming practices.

“Labour have said they will give new powers to regulators and introduce a land-use framework. They have pledged to improve public health and ensure half of all public sector food is produced locally or to higher environmental standards.

“We urge that these commitments are now transformed into action. As a priority, Starmer’s government should develop an economic framework that allows money to be generated from penalising the bad things through ‘polluter pays’, and ensure that those on low incomes can access healthy and sustainable diets, with farmers supported on a journey towards cleaner, greener agriculture!

Meanwhile, NFU President Tom Bradshaw focussed on the opportunity for a “reset moment for British agriculture”. He said, “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.”

He said that the number one priority for farmers was an increase in the agriculture budget to drive investment in the future of British farming, homegrown food, the environment and in renewable energy. Bradshaw said, “There are a number of policies within Labour’s manifesto which we will want to see actioned, for example ensuring the new Environmental Land Management Schemes work for all farm businesses, setting core standards for food imports and legislation to boost public procurement. At the same time, there are various issues that need greater recognition if the sector is to unlock its potential for growth, such as a fit for purpose Seasonal Workers Scheme, effective import controls, supply chain fairness, investment in infrastructure and flexibility in planning.

“Our members will also want to see the new government’s commitment to food security by being alert to the risk and impact of disease. Working together on these immediate priorities is a win-win. The public will get more of the British food they know and love, farmers and growers will have the confidence to build profitable, sustainable, resilient businesses – supporting economic growth and environmental delivery – and this new government will help to secure a safe supply of homegrown food in an increasingly volatile and uncertain world.”

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) congratulated Labour on its election victory. CLA President, Victoria Vyvyan, said, “The new government must listen to and learn from the rural community, as farmers and rural business owners can so often provide the solutions to the problems that government faces. The new government must hit the ground running. From providing certainty around the farming budget to overhauling the archaic planning system, it needs to go for growth with a robust and ambitious strategy for the countryside. The rural economy is 16% less productive than the national average, and closing that gap could add £43bn to UK gross added value. With the right support, rural businesses can generate growth, creating good jobs and prosperity for every community.”

The Nature Friendly Farming Network’s Chief Executive, Martin Lines, also welcomed the change in Westminster but sounded a note of caution about the scale of the task ahead. “This is an absolutely critical time and government needs to step up and deliver by halting nature’s decline and assisting its recovery, mitigating the impact of the climate crisis and building a resilient food system.

“The new government has included in its priorities access to nature, access to waterways and cleaning up water and boosting the rural economy and development. Farmers can be at the centre of delivering in all these areas if government will work proactively with them on the actions they can take. For the farming community to have confidence in its new government, the Labour leadership needs to present its plans for food and farming without delay.”

The NFFN is calling on the country’s new leaders to recognise that nature and food production are two sides of the same coin and that investing in modes of farming that help adapt to a rapidly-warming climate, free farmers from input dependency and support the recovery of watercourses is vital to long-term food security.

Support a practical, investable and inclusive narrative for land use.

Sign-up to receive our newsletter

Newsletter Signup
Contribute for just £2.50 per week
Skip to content