Defra secretary Liz Truss © Steve Back-REX ShutterstockDefra secretary Liz Truss © Steve Back-REX Shutterstock

NFU leaders have called on the government to deliver on manifesto pledges made before this year’s general election.

The plea will be made to Defra secretary Liz Truss by NFU president Meurig Raymond at the Conservative Party conference.

The NFU and the Food and Drink Federation are due to hold a fringe meeting at the conference in Manchester on Monday (5 October).

Mr Raymond said the NFU would quiz the government on how it plans to deliver its commitment to a long-term economic plan for the food and farming industry.

See also: Tory manifesto pledges to champion food and farming

Defra is expected to publish an industry-led strategy outlining a long-term vision for food and agriculture before the end of the year.

Departmental officials and ministers have been holding talks with industry stakeholders over recent weeks.

Further meetings will take place over the coming months.

But there are concerns that Defra’s activities could be severely curtailed by a new round of government cutbacks due to be announced this autumn.

Government departments including Defra face cuts of 25-40% when the comprehensive spending review is announced on 25 November.

Mr Raymond said the NFU was keen to know how farmers and growers fit into the government’s plan to grow the agricultural industry and make it more resilient.

The NFU also wants to know how government policy towards agriculture would change in the event that the UK leaves the EU following an in-out referendum expected in 2017.

Farm leaders have also called on ministers to give the go-ahead for badger culling in more areas to combat bovine tuberculosis in cattle.

Badger culling has been rolled out out to just one area of Dorset since pilot culling started in Somerset and Glocuestershire two years ago.

“I have no doubt that both the NFU members in the audience and myself will be holding them to account on how they plan to deliver their manifesto pledges”
Meurig Raymond, NFU 

Farm minister George Eustice has described this as the cautious roll out of the culling policy – but many farmers say more rapid progress is needed.

Mr Raymond said the NFU was fortunate that both Ms Truss and Mr Eustice were due to be attending the Tory fringe meeting.

He said: “I have no doubt that both the NFU members in the audience and myself will be holding them to account on how they plan to deliver their manifesto pledges.

“While we appreciate not all policies can be undertaken straight away, we are anxious to see progress on the TB eradication strategy.”

The NFU was also keen to see progress on the national food plan and legislation to assist farmers and growers affected by poor commodity prices.

This should include giving more power to the Grocery Code Adjudicator, suggested Mr Raymond.