NFU manifesto launched at winter reception in Parliament

12 December 2023

Continuing our efforts to ensure that agri-politics remains at the forefront of politicians’ minds the Westminster team hosted the winter reception and launched the NFU’s general election manifesto – Farming for Britain’s Future.

The NFU’s 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.

Britain’s farmers and growers produce high quality, climate-friendly food, fuel, fibre and flowers while maintaining and enhancing our beautiful countryside, protecting some of our most valuable natural assets and providing the foundation for the country’s largest manufacturing sector, food and drink.

We need politicians to work with us so we can fulfil our potential and continue to farm for Britain’s future.

“Alongside producing fantastic food, we are the custodians of our iconic countryside and farm businesses are often the beating heart of rural communities.”

NFU President Minette Batters

Read Farming for Britain’s Future: our election manifesto

The manifesto leads with new research which demonstrates how much food and farming matters to voters in the run-up to the general election, with a strong appetite for greater government support to boost home-grown food production.

What the public think

The four policy priorities the public think would show greater respect for farmers are:

  • a long-term plan for food and farming
  • a more powerful grocery regulator to ensure that farmers are treated fairly
  • prioritising British domestic food production in the budget
  • ensuring that more food in our schools and hospitals come from British farmers.

When asked to prioritise a range of industries food and farming came second only to healthcare and pharmaceuticals.

Some other key findings were:  

  • 84% think food production targets is either as important or more important than environmental targets for farming.
  • 82% say it would be a good idea for the government to set targets to increase British food production.
  • 79% think farmers have an important role to play in tackling climate change and balancing carbon emissions
  • 66% think that the parties’ plans on farming will be one of the issues that affect who they vote for at the next general election.
  • 66% think that a commitment to a long-term plan for food and farming will be an important factor in who they vote for in the next election.

The research was commissioned by the NFU and conducted by More in Common in October 2023.

British food and farming is vital to the public

Speaking on the research shown in our manifesto report, NFU President Minette Batters reiterated her thanks to the British public for their support towards farmers and growers over the “turbulent” few years with the Covid pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the cost-of-living crisis and increasing periods of drought and flooding, all affecting the industry.

She said: “Shoppers want to be able to go into a supermarket and have the option to buy quality, high-welfare, environmentally-friendly food and we know the availability and affordability of food is high on people’s minds.

“But with food production under increasing pressure, we need policies in place that support British farming, with all Whitehall departments developing policy through the lens of food production.”

Policymakers eager to learn more

This year’s reception was particularly well attended as the NFU welcomed over 70 MPs and Peers, covering six different political parties, all keen to learn more about the ‘Farming for Britain’s Future’ manifesto.

As the next general election nears, this was an crucial opportunity to inform policymakers of the key issues impacting farmers and growers today and present positive long-term solutions that the next government can implement.  

Among those in attendance were:

  • Mark Spencer MP, Farming Minister
  • Robbie Moore MP, Water and Rural Growth Minister
  • Steve Reed MP, Shadow Defra Secretary
  • Daniel Zeichner MP, Shadow Farming Minister
  • Tim Farron MP, Liberal Democrat EFRA Spokesperson
  • Stephen Flynn MP, SNP Westminster Leader
  • Dr Luke Evans MP, Leader of the ‘Buy British’ button campaign
  • Victoria Prentis KC MP, Attorney General
  • Baroness Rock, Tenancy Working Group Chair
  • Sir Robert Goodwill MP, EFRA Committee Chair
  • Dr Therese Coffey MP, Former Defra Secretary
  • Selaine Saxby MP, Event sponsor

On arrival, policymakers from across the country were each given a copy of the manifesto alongside the customary Christmas Reception gift of an NFU Countryside calendar and a hugely popular tea towel showcasing the best of British cheese.

For the first time we have used QR codes on the pages so that MPs, Peers and their staff can easily get to the detailed information of each of our policy asks. This will help them focus on solutions to the issues they see most often in their constituencies.

NFU Officeholders and staff were also on hand to talk of conversations the challenges and opportunities for British agriculture. Several MPs have since offered to continue this dialogue with visits to local NFU members.


The importance of the rural vote

Minette added: “We know that the rural vote will be important in this election, but it’s clear that across the country, people living in towns and cities also want to know how parties plan to boost sustainable, home-grown food production as well as care for the environment and tackle climate change. And our data shows it will influence who they vote for at the ballot box.

“We must not fall into the trap that we can simply import our food needs from other countries – we’ve seen that approach fail before with empty supermarket shelves and we know there is strong public opinion against importing food from elsewhere produced in ways that would be illegal here. That’s why we are asking for targets for British food production, just as the government has rightly legislated for targets on the environment, green energy and climate change. Food has to be given the same status.

“Alongside producing fantastic food, we are the custodians of our iconic countryside and farm businesses are often the beating heart of rural communities. We provide jobs for more than 4 million people and contribute billions to the economy. Add that to green, renewable fuel, natural fibre and a vibrant flower-growing sector, British farmers deliver so much for the nation.

“What farmers, growers and the public need now is to see practical and progressive policies coming from all political parties which are investing in a future where British food and farming can thrive.”

This page was first published on 11 December 2023. It was updated on 12 December 2023.

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