David Cameron has launched the Conservative Party manifesto, pledging to champion Britain’s farmers and food producers.
Promising a “good life for all”, the prime minister unveiled the document in Swindon on Tuesday (14 April).
The manifesto says a Tory government will set out a long-term vision for the future of British farming following the general election on 7 May.
“Backing business also means helping our farmers and our rural communities,” it says.
“Neglected for 13 years under Labour, we have started the process of championing and connecting up the countryside.
“In the coming years, we will go further, helping our farmers, supporting British food around the world and opening up new export markets.”
The Conservatives will work with the food and farming industry to develop a 25-year plan to “grow more, buy more and sell more British food.”
“We will promote British food abroad by setting up a Great British Food Unit to help trademark and promote local foods around the world,” says the manifesto.
British food will be backed at home by guaranteeing that all central government departments purchase food to British standards of production by the end of the Parliament, it adds.
“We will also help consumers to buy British by pushing for country of origin labelling in Europe, particularly for dairy products, following on from our success with beef, lamb, pork and poultry.
The manifesto also promises to “champion” the Groceries Code Adjudicator, so farmers receive a fair deal from the supermarkets – although it doesn’t say how this will be achieved.
Other farming-related pledges include less red tape, a science led approach to GM crops and pesticides, and the implementation of a strategy to eradicate bovine TB within 25 years.
All farm visits will be co-ordinated through a single Farm Inspection Taskforce, which will involve farmers themselves and use data from existing industry schemes, such as Red Tractor.
“We will allow farmers to smooth their profits for tax purposes over five years, up from the current two years, to counter income volatility,” says the document.
It adds: “We will treble the number of apprenticeships in food, farming and agri-tech, as part of our plan to secure three million more apprenticeships.”
The manifesto also pledges to push for further reform of the Common Agricultural Policy.
The Conservative manifesto is available online. The Liberal Democrats are expected to publish their election manifesto on Wednesday (15 April).