Farmers’ union says the industry needs more backing to meet environmental goals

NFU president Tom Bradshaw

NFU president Tom Bradshaw

Image: NFU

The NFU has called on the Chancellor to provide support that increases the ability of farm businesses to deal with volatility and build stability.

The letter to Jeremy Hunt highlights the opportunity for the Treasury to unlock and incentivise green investment in the industry, which it argues is essential to help meet the government-legislated net-zero by 2050 target while addressing high production costs, the devastating impacts of flooding and providing much-needed long-term certainty for domestic food production.

The farmers’ union argued the support is needed to ensure the sector can invest and continue to deliver for the country’s food security, environmental and productivity needs.

NFU president Tom Bradshaw said: “In a time of much change it is vital that our country’s food producers have the business confidence to continue producing climate-friendly, nutritious food long term. That is why we have written to the Chancellor ahead of the budget to outline the key policies needed to help UK farmers and growers through some pressing and ongoing challenges.

“With on-farm input costs up 32 per cent from 2019, more regular and severe weather events causing devastating flooding and crop losses, and with at least a 50 per cent reduction in direct farm payment support due in 2024, our food-producing businesses are facing a challenging economic backdrop.

“First and foremost, farms are businesses there to produce food for the nation. Without profitability built into farm businesses to create some certainty ahead, it is very difficult for farmers and growers to invest in the future. But fundamentally this is exactly what they must do to if we are to secure food production to feed people both here and for growing markets overseas.”

Bradshaw noted that as the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, worth more than £120 billion to the nation’s economy, the Chancellor “has an opportunity to take actions that will boost business confidence in the UK’s food and farming industry”. ”By enhancing capital allowances to incentivise green investment, ensuring the Environment Agency is properly funded to limit flooding and developing a future agricultural budget he will be able to ensure the UK farming industry is a resilient and sustainable sector for years to come,” he concluded.