Farming organisations respond to May’s snap election announcement

The NPA will call for all parties to deliver a fair deal for pig farmers from the Brexit negotiations ahead of the June General Election.

The NFU promised to ‘ensure farming’s voice is ‘front and centre during the campaign’, while NFU Scotland said it would seek to ‘influence and scrutinise’ the manifestos put out by the main parties in response to the shock announcement.

Prime Minister Theresa May sprung a surprise on Tuesday when she announced the Government’s intention to hold a snap election on June 8.

There will be a vote in the House of Commons on Wednesday to approve the election plan but this is likely to be a formality, with Labour saying it will vote in favour.

Explaining her decision, Mrs May said she had concluded this course of action was ‘the only way to guarantee certainty and security for years ahead’.

She said: “The country is coming together but Westminster is not.”

NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said the association would use the weeks in the run up to the poll to reinforce the pig sector’s priorities in the Brexit negotiations.

Dr Davies said: “We will call for all parties to ensure their manifestoes deliver a fair deal for the pig industry from the Brexit negotiations.”

“Our top three priorities are free access to the Single Market, measures to protect UK producers and consumers from cheaper, lower standard imports, including insisting on equivalence of standards, and measures to ensure continued access to EU labour.

“We also want to see a fair and balanced regulatory regime that protects our standards on the global market but removes the unnecessary Brussels-imposed burdens, and policies that ensure we protect our borders from animal disease wherever it originates from.”

“Across the range of policies that affect pig farmers, Brexit- and non-Brexit-related, we will bang the drum for our members.”

NFU president Meurig Raymond said: “With farming arguably the sector most impacted by Brexit, NFU members will want to understand how each of the political parties plans to support profitable, productive and progressive agriculture and horticulture in the future. The right post-Brexit trade deal is absolutely critical but equally well so is a new wider policy framework that better delivers for farming and the nation.

“Throughout the next seven weeks the NFU will ensure that all parties fully understand and engage with the food and farming community on the issues facing the sector both now and post-Brexit.”

NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick said: “The manifesto process will allow every party the opportunity to flesh out exactly what they want from the Brexit process.

“It is vital that they take the opportunity to clearly state what their vision is for agriculture and food production in the post-Brexit era.

“NFUS will seek to influence and scrutinise those manifestos and, despite the relatively short timetable between now and the election, we will pull together our own document reiterating our priorities for Scottish farmers and crofters.”

Tenant Farmers Association chief executive George Dunn said: “Today’s surprise announcement, assuming that it is endorsed by Parliament tomorrow, ushers in a further period of uncertainty at a time when we need to be putting in place the policy frameworks required for a post EU Britain.

“However, we are where we are and politicians from all shades of the political spectrum must show leadership in the forthcoming campaign by allowing constructive debate to enable the British people to make an informed choice when they go to the polls on 8 June.”

Country Land and Business Association director general Helen Woolley said: “The CLA will work throughout the campaign to ensure MPs understand the future of the rural economy must be a national priority through Brexit and beyond.”

Political reaction

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described the election announcement as a ‘chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first’.

Asked whether he was the next prime minister, Mr Corbyn said: “If we win the election, yes – and I want to lead a government that will transform this country, give real hope to everybody, and above all bring about a principle of justice for everybody and economic opportunities for everybody.”

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has said the call for a general election is ‘your chance to change the direction of your country’.

He said: “If you want to avoid a disastrous Hard Brexit. If you want to keep Britain in the Single Market. If you want a Britain that is open, tolerant and united, this is your chance.

“Only the Liberal Democrats can prevent a Conservative majority.”

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About The Author

Editor of LBM titles Pig World and Farm Business and group editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer. National Pig Association's webmaster. Previously political editor at Farmers Guardian for many years and also worked Farmers Weekly. Occasional farming media pundit. Brought up on a Leicestershire farm, now work from a shed in the garden in Oxfordshire. Big fan of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers. Occasional cricketer.