NFU President Minette Batters has today congratulated Boris Johnson in his election as Conservative party leader and urged him to do everything in his power to ensure that our departure from the EU is carried out in a smooth and orderly way.
The NFU has been clear that an orderly departure, that includes free and frictionless trade with the EU, is crucial in delivering the best outcome for British food production.
Leaving the EU with a trade deal is vital to allow farm business and Britain’s food producers to have a viable and sustainable future – continuing to produce food to some of the highest global standards while at the same time protecting the iconic British natural environment.
In a letter to the incoming Prime Minister, the NFU is highlighting five additional policy priorities for the new government:
- Stimulating farm business competitiveness and innovation through policies that ensure British farming is a leader in its field and result in a more resilient and advanced sector.
- Rising to the challenges of tackling climate change through concerted government effort now to put in place the policies to help deliver the NFU’s ambition to reach net zero by 2040.
- Promoting our high food standards through trade policy, building a globally recognised British Food Brand and ensuring our high standards of animal welfare and environmental protection are not undermined by trade deals that allows imports of food that would be illegal to produce in the UK.
- Ensuring an adequate supply of labour by delivering a future immigration system that is fit for purpose and recognises the specific needs and challenges of agriculture and horticulture.
- A long-term budgetary commitment for food and farming through a new agricultural policy that rewards farmers fairly for delivering public goods, supports stability and resilience, and provides funding that recognises the long, multi-annual timeframes farmers and growers operate to.
Mrs Batters said: “British farming is one of the nation’s most important assets, delivering safe, traceable and affordable food to millions, all while taking care of the beautiful countryside we have such great pride in. It underpins the nation’s largest manufacturing sector, food and drink, contributing more than £120 billion to the economy and employing almost four million people.
“To achieve the best outcome from Brexit, we need to leave the EU in a smooth and orderly way. A deal with the EU is crucial to maintaining free trade with our closest neighbours and largest trading partners, as well as access to people that want to come to the UK to work on farms.
“Mr Johnson has an opportunity to develop a new agricultural policy that works for Britain by creating a sustainable, vibrant and competitive future for our farming sector.
“We need to see policies that allow farm business to innovate, that help farmers rise to the challenge of tackling climate change, that enable farms access to the workers that pick, pack and grade our fruit, veg and flowers, and crucially an Agriculture Bill that is fit for purpose for the rising challenges of food production."
“I look forward to working with the incoming Prime Minister and his government to ensure we can achieve this and that British farming is recognised as strategically important for the nation.
“I would also like to thank Theresa May for her efforts as Prime Minister and her willingness to engage with the food and farming sector at such a crucial time.”
The five policy priorities for the new government - explained:
- Stimulating farm business competitiveness and innovation: recognising that food production, from farm to fork, has significant scope to improve its competitiveness, resulting in a more resilient and innovative sector. The NFU has a plan to work with Government to develop a fiscal and policy climate with a clear and unambiguous commitment to improving productivity, with incentives that will promote businesses to invest in new capital, machinery, technical and business skills; that will accelerate the use of data and benchmarking (such as the Livestock Information System) and that will drive the commissioning and uptake of applied research and innovation in practices that ensure UK farming is a leader in its field.
- Rising to the challenges of tackling climate change: farmers stand ready to do their part in delivering net zero by 2040. But, this requires concerted government effort now to put in place the infrastructure and policy measures to boost farming's productive efficiency by supporting investment in improved techniques and technologies; ensuring future agricultural policy rewards and incentivises farmland carbon storage; and coupling bioenergy to carbon capture, storage and utilisation, including through carbon pricing.
- Promoting our high food standards through trade policy: building a globally recognised British Food Brand that puts quality UK produce at the heart of export growth and ensuring our high standards are not undermined by trade policy that allows lower standard food to be imported into the UK. Our standards of animal welfare and the management of our farmed environment should be a benchmark for global standards, building on the success of initiatives such as tackling antimicrobial resistance, and forming the basis of a new leadership role at the WTO promoting the vital importance of these issues.
- Ensuring an adequate supply of labour: delivering a future immigration system that recognises the specific needs and challenges of agriculture and horticulture in sourcing the labour it needs, so that domestic food production is safeguarded while productivity gains come on line.
- A long-term budgetary commitment for food and farming: a new agricultural policy that rewards farmers fairly for delivering valuable public goods, supports stability and resilience within the sector, and promotes greater productivity must be underpinned by a long-term budgetary cycle through which financial support is delivered. This recognises the long, multi-annual timeframes within which farmers and growers operate as food producers, as well as the long-term nature of many of the measures and programmes required to deliver a sustainable agricultural model consistent with the country’s climate change commitments.
The new Prime Minister delivered his first address outside No.10 Downing Street. In his speech Mr Johnson referred to British farming, stating that ‘our amazing food and farming sector will be ready and waiting to continue selling’ when the UK leaves the EU. Watch the full address:
Read more about the NFU's work during the leadership race:
- In June, the NFU wrote to all Conservative Party leadership candidates, urging them to commit to delivering a positive future for British food production and to work with farmers to seize the opportunities that lie ahead. Read the letter the NFU received in response from Boris Johnson.
- NFU President writes to new Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson
- NFU Summer Reception keeps farming on Westminster agenda
- Labour party hosts Future of Food policy event at NFU’s London office