Budget spotlight could turn to farm policy

UK agriculture is well placed to withstand the ongoing recession, but its support mechanisms could be targeted as the government tries to correct its £175bn budget deficit.

That was one of the messages given to Wednesday’s (18 November) National Farm Management conference by Jeremy Franks of Newcastle University. He said farmers had been able to use the recent period of relatively good prices to replace equipment and restructure borrowings, plus farm asset values remained strong.

But relatively strong sectors with transparent support mechanisms, such as agriculture, could be easy targets for a combination of cuts to public sector payments and higher taxes, Dr Franks said.

“The globalisation of the financial markets has exposed farming to the financial implications of the large public sector debt.

“Trends in global financial and commodity markets and the UK’s future macro-economic policy as it seeks to repay debts and balance the annual deficit, now appear the most important sources of risk to agriculture,” he said.

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