Compete or lose out – Chancellor

27 August 1999

Compete or lose out – Chancellor

CHANCELLOR of the Exchequer Gordon Brown has been warned that, unless British agricultures competitive position improves, the government must prepare for even more rural job losses.

A joint letter from the NFU and Scottish and Ulster farmers unions told Mr Brown that agriculture was in a critical state and urged him to consider the full impact on the industry of any tax measures when drawing up plans for his Autumn Statement.

The unions asked the chancellor to freeze or reduce the tax on fuel and Vehicle Excise Duty and to abandon any plans to introduce pesticide and energy taxes. They also called for additional relief on investments in plant and farm machinery.

Mr Brown will use his Autumn Statement in Nov to reveal to parliament the legislation he plans to include in the budget next spring.

Ben Gill, NFU president, said: "Taxes which directly hike-up production costs in the UK will further erode the competitiveness of our home-grown produce."

The government had to realise that, unless British agriculture was able to improve its competitive position on the world market, more businesses in rural communities would collapse, putting many people out of work.

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