GE24: Funding farming's future – England's agricultural budget

24 May 2024

Our general election manifesto – Farming for Britain's Future – calls on the next government to look at the agricultural budget and commit a division of funding across the NFU's three cornerstones of agricultural policy – environment, productivity and stability. 

The next government must look afresh at the agricultural budget it inherits.

Challenges, such as climate change, and statutory commitments, such as the Environmental Improvement Plan, need to be matched by a renewed commitment to ensure the nation’s food security and help farming boost domestic production, as set out in the National Food Strategy.

With the current spending guaranteed only for the lifetime of this current parliament, which will be dissolved for the general election next week (30 May), the NFU has called for an effective agriculture budget to underpin British food production for the life of the next parliament.

British food production should be high on the next government's agenda

We'll send a letter to the new Secretary of State responsible for food and farming with the total number of people who believe that British food production should be a political priority.

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Division of funding

A balanced agricultural budget for the next parliament should be structured around the NFU’s three longstanding agricultural policy cornerstones:

  • environment
  • productivity
  • stability

Investment in productivity and stability will ensure a competitive and resilient agricultural sector, while investment in environmental delivery also contributes to the resilience of our food systems, our environmental ambitions and a more sustainable economy.

Manifesto graphic Productivity

£4bn budget needed

The NFU commissioned The Andersons Centre* to model the public funding required to deliver the government’s ambitions for agriculture in England over the 2025 to 2030  period, structured around our three agricultural policy cornerstones.

The research indicates that an annual agricultural budget for England of around £4 billion would support the delivery of a balanced agricultural policy which underpins global competitiveness:

  • around £2.7 billion to meet the government’s environmental goals
  • £615 million for driving productivity
  • £720 million to support the economic stability of agricultural businesses

The modelled budget does not capture every spending requirement, due to the interactions of funding need with policy design which are difficult to fully account for.

However, it does provide a strong indication of the level of budget required to deliver a globally competitive, productive, resilient, innovative and sustainable agricultural sector that would drive significant environmental improvements at unprecedented scale.

Manifesto graphic - Division (002)

British farming contributing to the economy

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The agri-food sector's contribution to the UK economy (GVA) in 2021 was £127 billion.

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The number of people working on UK agricultural holdings in 2022 was 471,000.

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69% of the UK's land area is farmed.

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Agri-food sector jobs in 2022 were just under 4.2 million.

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The number of businesses in the UK registered as farm businesses in 2022 was 142,500.

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UK food and drink exports in 2022 were £24.8 billion.

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UK food self sufficiency is currently (2022) at 60%.

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The amount UK shoppers spent on food and drink products in 2022 was £281 billion.

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The percentage of farm businesses that had some form of diversification in 2021/22 was 68%.

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Farmers produce renewable energy that helps to power an average of 10 million UK homes.

Download the NFU’s general election manifesto

Our general election manifesto – Farming for Britain's Future – outlines our key asks of the next government to ensure farmers and growers can continue to deliver for the environment, economy and local communities while producing more of the great British food we all enjoy.

*The Andersons Centre provides industry-leading business advice, research and analysis to the agricultural, rural and food sectors across the UK