Budget: We call for investment in British farming

Published 28 October 2021

Farm business
Chancellor Rishi Sunak. Image credit: Simon Walker, HM Treasury

Pictured above: Chancellor Rishi Sunak. Image credit: Simon Walker, HM Treasury

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has delivered his third Budget speech, which was combined with a three-year Comprehensive Spending Review. There was some encouraging news, but also disappointments for the farming sector.

Read NFU President Minette Batters' response below, and also what we had called for in our pre-Budget submission.

“Agriculture is not immune from the inflationary pressures hitting all parts of the economy; British farmers and growers are currently facing huge challenges from increased feed, fertiliser and energy costs, alongside a crippling shortage of workers," said Minette.

“UK farm businesses, and their diversified enterprises, will welcome the Chancellor’s announcement to extend the temporary increase in annual investment allowance for plant and machinery to March 2023. This will help support critical investment in British farming businesses. However, we now need to see a longer-term roadmap for capital allowances from 2023, one which incentivises all forms of capital investment including infrastructure."

It was disappointing not to hear anything from the Chancellor on government plans to develop its export strategy to help UK farmers grow their markets overseas, Minette said. She highlighted the need for funding for dedicated agricultural counsellors, or any details on overhauling government procurement practices to increase the provision of fresh and nutritious British food in our schools, hospitals and other public sites.

And equally the lack of focus on net zero funding, especially with COP26 only days away, was a missed opportunity. However, the Chancellor did announce that businesses will benefit from business rates investment relief for green technologies, which is a positive move to support continued investment in renewable energy and may help in UK farming’s ambition to achieve net zero by 2040. "We will now need to see more detail to be certain about the impacts this will deliver on farm," said Minette.

Minette Batters Sep 2021

She continued:“More encouraging was the new 50% business rates discount for companies in the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors, lasting for one year, which will support rural businesses such as farm shops recovering from the impact of Covid-19. There was also good news for our members who produce world leading sparkling wines with a reform of the alcohol duty system, ending the 28% duty premium, as well as a rate cut for our world leading hop and fruit cider producers.

“As we have already highlighted to the Chancellor, future farming schemes have the potential to deliver meaningful, widespread and long-term benefits for Britain. It was therefore positive to hear that Rishi Sunak will provide Defra with much needed additional resources and funding to deliver its plans to support the essential transition to a new agriculture policy.

The NFU’s Levelling Up report highlights how investment in British farming and rural Britain can bring huge benefits to the entire nation; delivering jobs, green growth, exports and improved health and wellbeing. Farm businesses have a key role in the government’s investment-led recovery. With an ambition to reach net zero by 2040, British farming can be a pivotal part of meeting our climate ambitions and increasing the production of sustainable climate-friendly food.”

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Read what we called for in our pre-Budget submission

In our pre-Budget submission to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, we highlighted the wide-ranging economic benefits of investing in the British food production system. We also explained the crucial importance of getting the transition to future farming schemes right.

We called for:

  • The government to develop its export strategy to help British farmers grow their markets overseas, including funding for dedicated agricultural counsellors to boost agri-food exports and market access.
  • Defra to receive adequate resources and funding, and more time to deliver its plans to support the essential transition to a new agriculture policy.
  • More engagement with farmers to ensure the new Environmental Land Management scheme (ELMs) is fit for purpose.
  • ELMs payments to offer far greater incentive for participation, to give farmers the confidence they need to invest, and for ELMs to provide fairer market returns as well as reward environmental delivery.

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