General election – what have parties committed to so far?

14 June 2024

Ed Davey, Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak

The Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties have now all set out their general election manifestos, which include policies they would implement to support British farming, growing, and food security if elected.

In recent months, these three political parties have all recognised the importance of food security to our national security, and the NFU, which has long campaigned on this issue, has welcomed the fact that the three parties have included this in their manifestos.

Public sector sourcing, budget and food imports

Top line manifesto highlights we particularly welcome include both Liberal Democrat and Conservative commitments to increasing a protected UK agriculture budget by £1 billion, Labour’s commitment to promote the highest standards when it comes to food imports and the Conservative promise to introduce a legally binding target to enhance our food security.

However, there is no mention of an agriculture budget in the Labour manifesto, something NFU President Tom Bradshaw said was “deeply disappointing”.

In other areas, the NFU welcomed all three parties’ commitments to support British food producers by increasing public sector sourcing from British farms, with the Conservatives and Labour promising to source at least 50% of public sector food locally or to higher environmental standards.

There are plenty of positives across the three manifestos, and it’s clear that our constructive and open lobbying on many areas has been listened to.”

NFU President Tom Bradshaw

Agricultural budget ‘most vital element’

NFU President Tom Bradshaw said: “There are plenty of positives across the three manifestos, and it’s clear that our constructive and open lobbying on many areas has been listened to.

“But the single most vital element is the agricultural budget. This isn’t just ‘money for farmers’, it’s the funding which helps the sector transition away from the old EU system, allows farm businesses to invest for the future and makes governments’ aims around sustainable food production, food security, the environment and net zero possible.

“It’s funding to help underpin the UK’s largest manufacturing sector – food and drink – which contributes more than £128 billion to the national economy and provides jobs for four million people.

“Our members will welcome the Lib Dem and Conservative commitments to increase the UK agriculture budget by £1 billion and protect it.

“The language around bovine TB in Labour’s manifesto – in which they claim the badger cull has been ‘ineffective’ – is incredibly unhelpful. It disregards the latest science showing a 56% decline in this awful disease – which we should remember kills thousands of cattle a year – and disrespects the incredible efforts our members have made to try and deliver TB eradication by 2038.”

Tom added: “We are continuing to engage with candidates across all parties to highlight the importance of a thriving homegrown food sector, and the need for resilient and profitable farming and growing businesses to underpin it.”

Commitment checklist

See our handy checklist of who’s committed to what below, and use the links on each ask to read our analysis.

If you're having trouble viewing on your phone or tablet, tilt your screen horizontally.

To see our full breakdown of what all the main parties have committed to, check out our go to guide to what's on offer for farming.

NFU manifesto policy Lib Dems Cons Lab
Farming for Britain’s Food
Clear commitment to a budget that underpins sustainable domestic food production, delivers for the environment and supports all land tenures. Yes Yes No
Establish a new food security index and target, including a statutory duty to monitor and report on domestic food production levels each year and produce an enhanced policy-focused government food security report annually that assesses the short, medium and long-term viability of the food sector. Partly Yes No
Ensure all new policies and regulations that impact agricultural and horticultural businesses undergo a food security impact assessment. No No No
A smooth and seamless transition to new environmental schemes that are open to all farmers and growers, less bureaucratic and ensure profitable long-term food-producing businesses. Yes Yes Yes
Identify opportunities to increase our market share of foods we can produce sustainably, including a commitment to source 50% of food into the public sector from British farms. Partly Yes Yes
Hold an annual food summit at No. 10 to ensure food security remains high on the political agenda. No Yes No
Establish minimum standards to promote a fair and functioning supply chain and provide arbitration or oversight to uphold them, as well as increasing the powers and resource of the Groceries Code Adjudicator. Yes No No
Farming for Britain's environment
Boost a range of incentives to reduce agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions, by driving productivity, improving energy efficiency, and reducing the impact of inputs like feed, fertiliser and fuel, while producing more climate-friendly food and increasing green energy use. Partly Partly Partly
Access to water for livestock and crop production in times of shortages to be guaranteed, reflecting water’s vital role in food production and food security. No No No
Plan for, and reward farmers fairly for their role in, mitigating flood risk and protecting adjacent towns and cities, and commit to the proactive management of our watercourses. Partly Partly Yes
Support a growing agricultural contribution to renewable energy generation and faster, affordable access to rural electricity grid connections. Partly Partly Yes
Reward for farmers for maintaining, protecting and enhancing our natural environment. Partly Partly Partly
The development of environmental markets which work alongside domestic food, energy and fibre production. Partly No No
Farming for Britain's communities
A minimum five-year rolling seasonal worker scheme, with suitable length visas, no wage dfferential from the National Living Wage or unrealistic cap on worker numbers, and implementation of the recommendations of the Independent Review into Labour Shortages in the Food Supply Chain. No Partly No
Responsible management of public access to the countryside. Partly Yes Yes
Where major infrastructure projects have the potential to disrupt and damage farmland and farm businesses, ensure steps are taken so farms can keep operating profitably and are properly and promptly compensated for any land taken and damage caused. Yes Partly Yes
Make changes to the planning system to ensure permitted development for infrastructure including glasshouses, reservoirs and slurry stores for the purposes of growing and processing fruit, vegetables, crops and livestock. No Yes Partly
A consistent and coordinated response to rural crime across government and police forces. No No Yes
More funding for rural mental health, review current emergency funding mechanisms, establish a dedicated rural mental health funding stream, and include rural mental health on the curriculum of agricultural colleges. Partly No Partly
Implement the recommendations of the Rock Review into agricultural tenancies. No Partly No
Farming for a global Britain
Publish an annual cumulative assessment of Free Trade agreements. No No No
Core production standards for agri-food imports. Yes No Yes
A cross-government, Treasury-funded plan to deal with issues identified on the government risk register that threaten food production capability. Partly Partly No
Enhance the role of AHDB with government matching levy payer funding for export promotion. No Partly No
Set out plans to invest in agricultural technology and innovation centres that bring benefits to the UK. Yes Partly No
Creation of a Scientific Advisory Group for agriculture. No No No

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