Manifesto ask: Building a thriving countryside and rural communities

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Rural areas are crying out for accelerated rollout of high-speed broadband and reliable mobile coverage, with universal coverage equivalent to urban areas. Only 17% of NFU members surveyed receive a reliable mobile signal in all locations on farm, while 45% still do not have access to sufficient broadband speeds. Better coverage is required to support farmers to maximise the opportunities that digital technology can provide for their businesses, to improve productivity and workers’ health and safety.

A promise to combat increasing levels of rural crime

We want to work with government to address the major rural crime issues, such as fly-tipping, livestock worrying, theft and hare coursing, which are having a huge impact on farming communities and agricultural businesses. We believe we can do this through:

  • A cross-departmental rural crime task force
  • Increased funding for rural policing
  • Simple changes to legislation where appropriate to aid the police and criminal justice system when dealing with rural crimes

Securing farming’s access to water

In order for farmers and growers to care for livestock, and grow high value, high quality crops, including ornamental flowers, fruit and vegetables, it is vital there is a comprehensive and integrated water management strategy. This should improve our resilience to water scarcity and flooding events for citizens, nature and food supply.

A clean, reliable source of water is vital to all farms, so we must have a fair and secure supply of water for our livestock in order to grow crops, including high value, high quality ornamental flowers, fruit and vegetables. Alongside a fair share of water, farming should have a statutory right of access in periods of drought for animal welfare and critical food production. We would like Government to:

  • Promote farming’s resilience to drought and flood with incentives to store surplus winter water, and reward seasonal washlands (farmland used seasonally to hold flood water, protecting urban areas), and soil management, that reduces flood risk to neighbouring properties
  • Ensure agriculture plays a full part in the Environment Agency’s strategic catchment and flood risk planning.

Read about the other key policy challenges:

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