Tories accused of hypocrisy for food security warning

The Conservatives have been accused of hypocrisy after scaremongering that a Labour government would threaten food security.

A tweet by the Conservatives featured a box of free range eggs which contained the warning “no quality guarantee” and “not laid in the UK” above a headline, warning “Don’t risk our food security”.

Beneath the egg box, a slogan reads: “Labour’s threat to drag farms into inheritance tax (IHT) risks more farms closing, putting our food security at risk”.

See also: Tories and Labour clash on farm inheritance tax claims

A Labour spokesperson said its own research showed that more than 6,000 agricultural-related businesses had gone bust since 2017.

The party also dismissed Tory claims that it plans to scrap inheritance tax relief for farmland as “desperate nonsense”.

George Dunn, chief executive of the Tenant Farmers Association (TFA), said Rishi Sunak’s government had only relatively recently woken up to the threat to food security faced by the country.

Mr Dunn said the Conservative government had undermined UK agriculture by signing Brexit free-trade agreements with countries that potentially allows greater amounts of imported food produced to lower standards, whilst “doing little” to promote exports with countries previously closed to the UK as members of the European Union.

Meanwhile, the failure to deal with unfairness in the supply chain and strengthening the role of the groceries code adjudicator “continues to cause severe strains on farmers and growers which will be to our long-term detriment in food security terms”.

Mr Dunn said the government had also consulted on, but backed away from a TFA proposal supported by the Rock Review into agricultural tenancies which had sought to limit valuable IHT relief only to asset-rich landlords prepared to let farm tenancies on long terms.

Foreign fertiliser dependency

Liz Webster, founder of Save British Farming, said the Conservative government refused to step in and offer financial support during crises in the pig, eggs and horticulture (fresh salad) sectors.

It had also undermined UK food security by refusing to give CF Fertilisers a £10m loan to restart production at its mothballed Ince plant, which means this country is now wholly dependent on imported fertiliser.  

“This is scaremongering from the Conservatives and they are trying to appeal to farmers’ tribal instincts for their votes as they face oblivion in the general election,” said Mrs Webster.

“If Rishi Sunak’s government really cared about food security they should have sured up British food when in fact, they did the opposite. The only option open to the next government is to get rid of Brexit trade barriers and get growth back.”

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