Farming News - Industry responds to GE result

Industry responds to GE result

13 Dec 2019
Frontdesk / Finance

Boris Johnson

NFU President Minette Batters said: “The NFU will start working with the new government and parliament straight away to ensure all areas of Westminster and Whitehall understand and value the importance of British food and farming.

“During the election campaign, we spoke to candidates from all parties to reiterate to them the strategic importance of our industry to the nation; one that contributes £122 billion to the UK economy, delivering jobs for almost four million people and affordable food for the entire country. Many of those candidates are now MPs, so we will be continuing those conversations in Westminster and inviting them out on farm so they can see first-hand the high standards British farmers are proud of and the safe, traceable food systems British people value.  We, of course, will be seeking meetings with Ministers as soon as possible

"It’s imperative we secure a future trade deal with the EU that is as free and frictionless as possible, avoiding the damaging spectre of trading with our largest partner on WTO terms. Alongside this, our future trade policy mustn't allow imports of food produced to standards that would be illegal to produce here.

“The UK could embark on its first trade negotiations for decades in just 50 days’ time – the government must set up a Trade and Standards Commission as a matter of urgency so that they can work with industry and stakeholders to ensure those negotiations do not allow the high standards which are the hallmark of UK farming to be undermined by imported food which would fail to meet our own domestic regulations and values surrounding animal welfare, environmental standards and traceability.

“From our ambitious vision for agriculture to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 to increasing our self-sufficiency by producing more high-quality, British food at home, British farmers are ready and able to tackle the challenges ahead as well as making the most of new opportunities.

“We live in a country that has some of the highest animal welfare, environmental and food safety standards in the world, all the while providing the British public with the third most affordable food on the planet, and at the same time maintaining and enhancing the iconic British landscape. That’s why the public trusts and supports British farmers.

“Britain needs the new government to back British farming like never before; to invest in domestic food production so we can increase our productivity, create more jobs and deliver more for the environment.  Government needs to act to ensure guaranteed access to a skilled and competent workforce; develop a framework for a more competitive and sustainable farming industry; put in place a long-term food strategy; and place science at the heart of policy making. This will allow farming businesses to continue doing what they do best – provide safe, traceable and affordable food for the nation.”

CLA President Mark Bridgeman said:“Many will breathe a sigh of relief that this result at least brings a degree of political certainty.  But for all the claims of ‘getting Brexit done’ the idea that Brexit ends on 31 January is wrong.

“Assuming we leave the EU next month, we will have less than a year to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement with Europe or else once again No Deal is back on the table.  This timeframe is hugely optimistic.

“Never forget though the extent to which European agriculture needs a deal with the UK – the EU runs a £20bn agriculture trade surplus with the UK, and a traded goods surplus of almost £100bn. The idea that the EU can shrug off a dramatically reduced trade relationship with the UK is naïve.  With a stable government in place, at least the Prime Minister can negotiate with a greater degree of strength than before the election.

“We will do what we can to help Government negotiate comprehensive agreements not just with the EU but across the world.  But Government needs to earn the trust of rural communities by guaranteeing that UK farmers will not be undercut by cheap imports produced to lower standards."

FDF’s Chief Operating Officer, Tim Rycroft, said:“We congratulate the Prime Minister and his Government on the result of the General Election 2019. For too long, business has been mired in a sea of political uncertainty, hitting investment, productivity and long-term growth.

“As the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, food and drink is part of the UK’s critical national infrastructure and essential to national security. The nation’s £31.1 billion industry employs over 450,000 people with a footprint in every community.

“UK food and drink is a national success story. As set out in our manifesto, we want to work in partnership with the Government to reach our full potential as the most dynamic, sustainable, resilient and competitive industry, by boosting exports, developing talent and encouraging innovation.

“Food and drink from Great Britain and Northern Ireland is prized for its quality and provenance. Through a new national Food Strategy and a dedicated future trade policy for food and drink, we can ensure our industry flourishes and brings good jobs and growth to every corner of the UK.”

The Tenant Farmers Association’s (TFA) National Chairman, James Gray, said key tasks are:

  • To ensure that we are on the front foot in developing strong export markets for our farm produce both within the EU and, very importantly, further afield whilst protecting domestic consumers from food produced abroad to standards which would be illegal at home.
    • Ensuring that we use our tariff policy to put us in the strongest position to support our domestic agricultural industry and protecting us from lower quality imports.
    • Taking action to tackle market failures within retail and food service supply chains, thereby ensuring fair returns to primary producers.
    • Developing future agricultural policy that focuses on supporting active farmers in raising productivity, meeting environmental and animal welfare goals and in tackling climate change.
    • Ensuring access to the migrant labour we need within our primary production and processing sectors whilst we work together at encouraging more domestic labour into those sectors.
    • Requiring public sector food procurement to prioritise food from British sources.
    • Maintaining free and unfettered trade between and within the four UK countries.
    • Bringing forward legislative and fiscal reforms tackling the short-term farm tenancy culture which pervades the landlord community.

“With new Agriculture, Trade and Environment Bills expected to be introduced to Parliament early in the New Year, TFA will be working to ensure that these priorities are taken forward,” said Mr Gray.

 NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker comments: “For the last three years we have been left in limbo waiting for one thing or another to happen, crippled by indecision and with a seriously divided society.  But having reached the end of this general election period, with a returned prime minister holding the strongest mandate this country has seen in decades, we can be sure that at least the first layer of uncertainty has been removed. We cannot allow our future to be based on one side winning and one losing and if the new Government wants to live up to its strapline of a one nation Government it will need to demonstrate that we are all equal stakeholders in our future”

“As far as the sheep industry is concerned the best thing we can do is accept the nations decision and move forward. We have some strong assurances from the Prime Minister; that a no deal at the end of 2020 should not be feared because a free trade deal with the EU can be reached by the end of 2020; that no restrictions/hurdles/paperwork will be needed relating to movement of goods between our mainland and Northern Ireland; and that British farmers will be protected from lower standard and cheaper products entering the UK market.”