Commitment to fast broadband for rural areas wins support from farmers’ union

NFU president Minette Batters

NFU president Minette Batters

The NFU has welcomed the focus on technology in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, but called for certainty on future energy bill support for businesses.

NFU president Minette Batters welcomed commitments on investments in research and development and the rollout of gigabit broadband technology to hard-to-reach rural communities. ”While we await further clarity, these commitments would enable Britain’s farmers to be more productive and efficient, while continuing to produce sustainable food and achieve ambitious net zero goals,” she said.

However, rocketing energy costs, combined with huge hikes in feed and fertiliser, are putting farmers under intense pressure, she added. ”We expect an announcement on future support for businesses before Christmas and it is vital this new targeted approach for business beyond next April includes UK food production and the food supply chain,” Batters continued. 

“With a safe, affordable domestic food supply being central to our nation’s success, we believe there are robust grounds for the government to classify our industry as a vulnerable sector when it comes to energy provision.

“We also heard from the Chancellor committing that government departments will have their overall budgets increased in real terms. We trust this will allow Defra to deliver a properly-funded Agricultural Transition Plan to ensure Britain’s farmers have the confidence to invest and grow their businesses, in turn, enabling British food, farming and the country to thrive.”