Queen's Speech - NFU reaction
NFU President Meurig Raymond said: “We welcome stability in the taxation system with the announcement that there will be no increases in income tax or national insurance for the next five years. Combined with the five year tax averaging announcement in the last budget, this will help many farmers to manage their cashflow.
“The main bill announced, however, was the EU referendum. It is clear that it will now go ahead. We know that there are strong views on both sides and the NFU is keen to play its part in the debate on the facts around EU membership and agriculture. We will need more clarity on what life inside and outside the EU will mean for British farmers. Following that, the NFU will be producing detailed analysis of the pros and cons of EU membership, taking into account the terms of the renegotiation process.
“We are pleased with the focus on job creation and apprenticeships in the Queen’s Speech. The NFU is pleased to be involved in the government’s Apprenticeship Trailblazers initiative to reform apprenticeship standards across agriculture - the number of people starting apprenticeships in agriculture has risen 30% over the past five years.
“A plan to increase energy security will be welcome, but we must make sure this is from diverse energy sources. Land-based renewable energy has a key part to play in managing our energy security and there is a great appetite for this in agriculture – farmers already contributes thousands of megawatts of power collectively.
“The NFU’s lobbying on better reducing ‘red tape’ has been recognised in the proposed Enterprise Bill and we hope that we can speedily implement recommendations on better regulation for food and farming from the Macdonald report.
“The Queen’s Speech also highlighted a drive to greater devolution of powers. While we will wait to see exactly what these proposals are, it is important that rural areas aren’t left behind as their urban counterparts gain more influence. Similarly with the government’s commitment to HS2 and other high speed lines, there must be fair and swift compensation for the rural areas that stand to bear the majority of the impact with the fewest benefits.
“The NFU’s top priorities are a long-term strategy for food and farming and a full implementation of the 25 year TB eradication strategy, and although these weren’t mentioned in the Queen’s Speech we look forward to working with the government to ensure these and our other lobbying asks are put into action.”