Responding to today’s Budget statement by the Chancellor Philip Hammond, NFU President Minette Batters said: “As we move ever closer to leaving the EU, farmers and growers are still seeking assurances and clarity about the environment they will be operating in. In these times of uncertainty, policies that support sustainable farm businesses are crucial.
“The announcement that the Government will introduce a new Structures and Buildings Allowance for non-residential structures has gone some way to meet our call for tax relief on investment in farm infrastructure and will help farmers invest in modern, efficient buildings.
“The NFU also welcomes the increase to the Annual Investment Allowance to £1m but we are disappointed it is time-limited for two years.
“We are pleased to see that there is a significant £200m investment in piloting new solutions to deploy full fibre internet in rural locations. It is vital that this is not a one-off investment and it must be part of a continued effort to deliver better connectivity for all rural businesses.
“According to the latest NFU survey, 59% of farmers felt the broadband speed they received was insufficient for their business. We hope that this investment in the National Productivity Investment Fund will be used to address the digital divide between the countryside and urban areas.
“The announcement today that the National Living Wage will increase by 4.9% is substantially more than the sector expected and comes at a time when farm businesses are faced with a rising cost base. We will continue to engage with the Low Pay Commission on this issue.
“It is vital the strategic importance of the farming industry, that provides the raw ingredients for the UK’s largest manufacturing sector food and drink, which generates £113 billion for the economy, is properly recognised and valued by the Government.”