Chancellor urged to deliver stability for food producers ahead of Spring Budget

27 February 2024

Chancellor of the Exchequer red box

In a letter to the Chancellor ahead of the Spring Budget, the NFU has called for support that increases the ability of farm businesses to deal with volatility and build stability, to ensure the sector can invest and continue to deliver for the country’s food security, environmental and productivity needs. 

The letter highlights1 the opportunity for HM Treasury to unlock and incentivise green investment in the industry which is essential to help meet the government legislated net zero by 2050 target, while addressing high production costs, the devastating impacts of flooding and providing much-needed long-term certainty for domestic food production.

NFU President Tom Bradshaw said: “In a time of much change it is vital that our country’s food producers have the business confidence to continue producing climate-friendly, nutritious food long-term. That is why we have written to the Chancellor ahead of the budget to outline the key policies needed to help UK farmers and growers through some pressing and ongoing challenges.

“With on farm input costs up 32% from 2019, more regular and severe weather events causing devastating flooding and crop losses, and with at least a 50% reduction in direct farm payment support due in 2024, our food producing businesses are facing a challenging economic backdrop.

“First and foremost, farms are businesses there to produce food for the nation. Without profitability built into farm businesses to create some certainty ahead, it is very difficult for farmers and growers to invest in the future. But fundamentally this is exactly what they must do to if we are to secure food production to feed people both here and for growing markets overseas.

“As the UK’s largest manufacturing sector2, worth more than £120 billion to the nation’s economy, the Chancellor has an opportunity to take actions that will boost business confidence in the UK’s food and farming industry. By enhancing capital allowances to incentivise green investment, ensuring the Environment Agency is properly funded to limit flooding and developing a future agricultural budget he will be able to ensure the UK farming industry is a resilient and sustainable sector for years to come.”

More information 

  1. Some of the NFU’s asks of the Treasury include:
  • To ensure the Environment Agency is funded to prioritise essential maintenance of flood defences and watercourses.
  • To extend the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund (IETF) to include the poultry sector.
  • To introduce enhanced capital allowances to incentivise investment in a range of low-carbon capital investments.
  • To confirm a further round of the Rural England Prosperity Fund (REPF) to help farming businesses deliver diversification projects.
  • To work on developing a future agriculture budget structured around environment, productivity and stability.
  • To amend inheritance tax agricultural relief to ensure that all agricultural land entered into the Environmental Land Management schemes continue to qualify.
  1. Farming is the bedrock of the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, food and drink, which contributes more than £120 billion to the national economy and provides 4 million jobs.