Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, delivered a mixed package of decisions for the farming industry during his autumn statement today.
While confirming the well-trailed negative that Defra’s administration budgets will be cut by 26% by 2019, the Chancellor then committed the government to a positive course of action by announcing a programme of “priority spending” on animal and plant disease prevention.
The immediate response from the NFU was that the industry will need to wait for more details to emerge before understanding the full impact of the planned Defra cuts on farmers.
The commitment concerning animal and plant disease prevention was welcomed by the union, however.
The Chancellor’s statement on disease prevention centred on the need to maintain a “world-class response and recovery capability” an objective backed by a pledge to invest £130 million of capital funding in Defra’s science estates by 2020-21. The government also said it will continue to invest in implementing its 25-year strategy to eradicate tuberculosis.
Environment Secretary, Elizabeth Truss (pictured above) added: “We can now plan for the future, pressing ahead with our vital work to protect the country from floods and animal and plant disease, put in place stronger protections for our natural landscape and deliver on our commitments for a cleaner, healthier environment which benefits people and the economy.”
Ms Truss did add, however, that everyone has a part to play in eliminating the deficit by 2020. Even with that requirement she still maintained that, “through its ambitious programme of efficiencies, Defra will go further to become a more modern organisation, streamlining services and doing things more strategically”.