The future government must not undermine British farmers by allowing imports of food produced to lower standards.
That is one the NFU’s key demands as it launches its manifesto ahead of the general election on 12 December.
The document, which emphasizes British farming’s extensive contributions to the nation, highlights three areas that require immediate attention from a future government:
1. A commitment that future trade policy will not allow the imports of food produced to standards that would be illegal to produce in the UK, undermining British farm businesses.
2. Guaranteed access to a skilled and competent workforce, by expanding the Seasonal Workers Pilot scheme from 2,500 to 70,000 workers “as soon as practically possible”.
3. A long-term investment programme to support British farming.
The manifesto sets out where British farming can grow its contribution to the country, including its ambitious vision for net zero agriculture by 2040 and by producing more food domestically for consumers on different budgets.
Unsurprisingly, Brexit, future domestic agricultural policy, securing a long-term food strategy and a focus on science are also central to the NFU’s demands.
NFU president Minette Batters said: “The outcome of this general election will determine the future direction of this country and our farming system, including how we trade with the world, how we invest in our food system and how we attract a workforce.
“There are still very real threats that we face as an industry. If we crash out of the EU without a deal or introduce a trade policy that allows imports of food produced to standards that would be illegal to produce here, delivering on our ambitions suddenly becomes very challenging.
“That is why we are urging all political parties to commit to protecting our standards of production in future trade policy as one of our headline asks in this manifesto.”
Ahead of the election, Batters will be speaking to candidates from all parties to reiterate the strategic importance of British food and farming to the UK. The sector contributes £122 billion to the economy and delivers almost 4 million jobs.