NFU urges chancellor to prioritise domestic food production in his spring budget and offer more support to farmers

NFU president Minette Batters

NFU president Minette Batters is urging the chancellor to provide support to farmers in his spring budget

The NFU has called for greater government support for domestic food production as energy, fuel and other production costs continue to soar.

In a letter to chancellor Jeremy Hunt ahead of the spring budget next week (15 March), NFU president Minette Batters reiterated the need to extend the Energy and Trade Intensive Industries (ETII) scheme to include energy intensive sectors, such as horticultural and poultry production.

She also called for an extension to the current reduced rates of fuel duty, including for red diesel, and for improved support for capital investment, which would help alleviate costs for farm businesses and drive crucial investment to enhance productivity.

Commenting ahead of the budget, Batters said: “At an NFU reception in Westminster in December, the chancellor recognised the ongoing challenges of producing food in Britain, and we are now seeing the impact of these challenges play out through contraction across all sectors. If the government is to halt food price inflation and help prevent further food shortages, greater support and confidence is needed for the thousands of farm businesses which are trying, but struggling, to feed our nation.

“It seems irresponsible that the ETII scheme completely overlooks primary food production, not to mention it being wholly at odds with the government’s own ambition to produce more home-grown fruit and vegetables,” she continued. ”An urgent review into the ETII is needed to ensure that essential and vulnerable food producing sectors, such as protected horticulture and poultry production, do not face a cliff edge when the Energy Bill Relief Scheme ends later this month.

“Improving support for capital investment and extending the reduced fuel duty rates would also give farmers and growers across all sectors greater confidence, especially as the cost of red diesel remains almost 40 per cent higher than it was last April.”