General election ‘most important in a generation for British food and farming’

NFU President Tom Bradshaw stood outside of 10 Downing Street

Photograph: NFU President Tom Bradshaw meeting at Number 10 with special advisors on 26 March 2024.

With the next general election set for 4 July, the NFU is urging all political parties to recognise the crucial role of farmers and growers, as candidates begin to make their pitches for the rural vote.

Responding to the news of the election, NFU President Tom Bradshaw said: “This general election may well be the most important in a generation for British food and farming.

“The stakes are very high. If the next government gets it right, then this huge sector can grow, contributing even more to the UK economy, to the health and welfare of Britons and to the environment.

“But farming and growing is under huge pressure.”

Confidence collapse, flooding and costs high on agenda

“Confidence is the currency that forms the foundation of feeding the country and it is currently at rock bottom; after months of devastating flooding, high production costs and low market returns, and against a backdrop of reformed farm support as we transition to a new domestic agriculture policy,” Tom added.

Results from the NFU’s farmer confidence survey were published earlier this month and marked the lowest confidence levels since records began in 2010.

The phasing out of BPS payments (86%), rising input prices (80%) and government regulation and legislation (80%) topped the factors farmers said would negatively affect their farm business.

If the next government gets it right, then this huge sector can grow, contributing even more to the UK economy, to the health and welfare of Britons and to the environment.”

NFU President Tom Bradshaw

Tom said the NFU will be engaging with candidates from all political parties to promote our election manifesto “and ensure every prospective MP understands the importance of boosting home-grown food production as well as the work farmers and growers carry out 365 days a year caring for the environment, providing a home for nature and providing solutions to the challenges of climate change”.

Our general election manifesto was published last year, and we have been working to influence all parties ever since, some of which have already echoed our asks.

The manifesto outlines what we believe the next government needs to deliver in order to support the nation’s farmers and growers.

Practical policies to invest in the future

“What farmers, growers and the public need to see are practical policies which invest in a future where Britain’s farmers and growers can continue producing sustainable, affordable food, driving forward economic growth, providing jobs, and delivering on the nation’s environmental ambitions,” Tom concluded.

In our manifesto, we have delivered a detailed and comprehensive document that covers crucial aspects of agricultural policy on everything from environmental schemes and flooding, to trade agreements and supply chain fairness.

All of this is underlined by the key pillars of food production and food security which must be given the priority they need in this country.

Politicians and those in power cannot continue to think that we can ignore our own food production capabilities and simply import the food we need from other countries.

Put simply, farming cannot fail.

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