Boris Johnson's successor as leader of the Conservative Party, and the future Prime Minister, will be announced on 5 September 2022.
NFU President Minette Batters has written to the two remaining candidates, outlining the key issues they need to tackle for British food and farming.
Letter In Full
Given the agricultural constituency you represent, you already know how much British farmers matter. We provide the foundation for the country’s largest manufacturing sector, food and drink, while at the same time acting as custodians of the iconic British landscape. During the pandemic we worked around the clock as key workers to keep the nation fed, and farming is central to a thriving rural economy, as well as the country’s net zero ambitions.
With the right ingredients and in partnership with government, British farmers can deliver even more in the future. I am therefore writing on behalf of the 55,000 farmers and growers across England and Wales that the NFU represents, to set out the key priorities for our sector for the next Prime Minister.
Both the pandemic and the situation in Ukraine has highlighted just how important domestic food production is. The government’s Food Strategy, published in June, represented a clear milestone as it recognised that food production is a core part of our nation’s resilience. In order to deliver on the ambitions within the Food Strategy, the NFU wants to see food production taken seriously across Whitehall through the commitment to:
- A statutory underpinning of food production that looks to maintain current levels of self-sufficiency and food production and ensures that all government departments give due regard to the impact of policies on the country’s ability to produce food.
- Further refocusing of funding within the Agricultural Transition Plan towards sustainable food production, underpinned by a multiannual funding commitment.
- A more certain and predictable regulatory environment specifically tailored to the UK, one that manages risk while providing suitable incentives and sufficient freedom for farmers and growers to invest in their businesses and contribute to UK food security.
- A planning system that enables farm businesses to boost productivity and help in our collective goal to achieve net zero.
- An immigration system that recognises the specific needs and challenges of agriculture and horticulture in sourcing the labour it needs and provides certainty for businesses, particularly horticultural businesses where the government recognises there are huge opportunities for growth.
- An international trade strategy that enables agriculture to achieve the NFU’s ambition of growing our food and drink exports from 30% by 2030 and ensures that existing high animal welfare and environmental standards in the UK are not undermined by lower standard imports.
Spiralling input costs, uncertainty about future support schemes and a focus on species reintroduction at such a critical time means that farmers’ confidence about the future is low. My members will therefore be looking to you during this campaign to see what you will offer our sector and the rural areas we underpin.
I am confident that with the right policies and by working together, farmers can achieve so much for our country – not just by providing high quality and climate-friendly food, but also protecting and enhancing our environment. We are ambitious to deliver on all fronts but that ambition must be matched with honesty and certainty about the future.
With best wishes for the campaign ahead.