The Conservative Party has pledged to extend its commitment to guarantee the current level of financial support for farmers, from 2020 until 2022.
The commitment was the headline policy on agriculture in the Conservatives’ 88-page manifesto, released on Thursday (18 May), in which prime minister Theresa May set out her plan for Britain’s exit from the EU.
The Country Land & Business Association welcomed the pledge, saying: “Guaranteeing the budget until 2022 will ensure farmers can continue to both provide home-grown food and support the environment.
“This is much-welcomed reassurance from the Conservatives that, if they are returned to power, they will provide farmers and rural businesses with the certainty they need to plan for the future as the UK exits the European Union.”
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The Conservatives said it “has huge ambitions for our farming industry: we are determined to grow more, sell more and export more great British food”. But it set out just six manifesto commitments which will affect agriculture:
- Commit the same cash total for farm support until 2022, and work with farmers, food producers, environmental experts and the devolved administrations to devise a new agri-environment system, to be introduced in the following parliament
- Replicate all existing EU free-trade agreements and support the ratification of trade agreements entered into during our EU membership
- Improve animal welfare by making CCTV recording in slaughterhouses mandatory, and take early steps to control the export of live farm animals for slaughter as the UK leaves the EU
- Protect the interests of farmers and fishermen in Scotland under a new UK farming and fisheries policy, and use the UK’s muscle to promote Scottish exports around the world as it develops new trade policies
- Reconvene the Board of Trade with a membership specifically charged with ensuring exports are increased from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as England
- Ensure that by 2020 every home and every business in Britain has access to high-speed broadband.
A 25-year environment plan
The Conservatives also pledged to be the first party to leave the environment in a better state than it inherited it by:
- Producing a comprehensive 25-year environment plan charting the take-back of control over environmental legislation
- Helping Natural England expand its provision of technical expertise to farmers to deliver environmental improvements on a landscape scale, from enriching soil fertility to planting hedgerows and building dry stone walls
- Improving natural flood management, such as improving the quality of watercourses to protect against soil erosion and damage to vulnerable habitats and communities
- Ensuring public forests and woodland are kept in trust for the nation, and provide stronger protections for ancient woodland
- Granting a free vote to give parliament the opportunity to decide the future of the Hunting Act.