The NFU has called on politicians to deliver a better deal for agriculture as the union set out its priorities for the next government.
With this autumn’s party conference season just around the corner and a general election next year, the NFU farming manifesto was launched by union president Meurig Raymond in London on Wednesday (17 September).
Five key challenges are included in the document. It calls for a government that invests in agriculture for growth; protects animal and plant health; secures knowledge and technology; builds fair, safe and secure food chains; and cares for the countryside.
Mr Raymond said: “Ahead of the general election next May, we are calling on all the main political parties to help maximise the potential of our industry – and create a policy environment in which our farmers and growers can thrive.”
British farmers faced major challenges, said Mr Raymond – including the need to increase food production with fewer inputs and better care for the environment. That goal would best be achieved by British farming and politicians working together, he suggested.
“I want the next government to work with the NFU to set an agenda for growth, for profitable production, that fosters the breadth of farm businesses from food to renewable energy and environmental services by building on the professionalism and confidence of British farmers.”
Although challenging, the future included clear opportunities, too, said Mr Raymond. Global and domestic demand for food and renewable energy was on the rise. At the same time, 88% of the UK public believed that farming was important to the economy.
“Farmers are ready, too, with the potential to grow production and reduce our reliance on imported produce. What is needed now is a government that understands farming, that supports growth and that has the policies that send the right business signals to farmers across the UK.”
Agriculture will be the main topic of discussion during NFU fringe meetings held over the coming weeks at the Labour conference (Manchester, 21-24 September), Conservative conference (Birmingham 28, September-1 October), and Liberal Democrat conference (Glasgow, 4-8 October).