The agricultural industry needs a government that understands farm businesses, wants agriculture to grow and has the policies that send the right signals to farmers, according to the National Farmers Union (NFU) farming manifesto which is launched today.
Getting their pre-2015 general election shopping list in early, the NFU highlights five key policy challenges over the short, medium and long term. These are:
- investing for growth,
- protecting animal and plant health,
- securing knowledge and technology,
- building fair, safe and secure food chains, and
- caring for the countryside.
NFU President Meurig Raymond said: “Ahead of the general election next May, we are calling on all the main political parties to help maximize the potential of our industry and create a policy environment in which our farmers and growers can thrive.
“I am intensely aware of the major challenges ahead for British farmers, to increase food production with fewer inputs and better care for the environment. I want the next Government to work with the NFU to set an agenda for growth, for profitable production, that fosters the breadth of farm businesses from food to renewable energy and environmental services by building on the professionalism and confidence of British farmers. By backing British farming and working together we have a unique opportunity to increase food production by supporting research, investment and growth.”
The president added that the opportunities for farm business development were clear enough, with global and domestic demand for food and renewable energy already on the rise, against a background of 88% of the UK public viewing farming as an important part of the economy. He also said he believed farmers were ready for the next challenge, with the potential to grow production and reduce our reliance on imported produce.
“I sincerely believe that the steps we’ve set out in this manifesto are practical and easily implementable actions,” he said. “If adopted, they will deliver growth and benefits for both the country and countryside, while enabling political parties to clearly demonstrate their commitment to the future of this most essential of industries.”