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​Election Insights for Farming: What Each Party Offers

​Election Insights for Farming: What Each Party Offers

Posted by Emma on 20th Jun 2024

As the UK heads towards the 2024 General Election, each political party has unveiled its manifesto outlining what it plans to do for the farming sector if elected. Here’s a breakdown of the key commitments from the major parties to help farmers understand what’s on offer.

Conservative Party

Agriculture Budget: The Conservatives promise to boost the UK-wide farming budget by £1 billion over the Parliament, with annual increases adjusted for inflation. They also propose a new £20 million Farming Innovation Fund to encourage advancements in farming techniques.

Food Security: A legally binding target to enhance food security will be introduced. This target, along with the UK Food Security Index, will guide the development of the Land Use Framework. Additionally, the Conservatives pledge to continue hosting the UK Farm to Fork Summit every year.

Procurement: The manifesto includes a commitment to spend at least 50% of food expenditure on locally produced food or food that meets high environmental standards.

Planning: Reforms to the planning system are proposed to fast-track permissions for farm infrastructure projects like glasshouses, slurry and grain stores, and small-scale reservoirs.

Labour and Skills: To address labour shortages, the Conservatives plan to introduce a five-year visa scheme for agricultural workers, invest in automation, and promote careers in the agri-food sector.

Rural Crime: The party aims to crack down on organised waste crime and fly-tipping, giving councils more tools to tackle these issues.

Tax: Key tax incentives such as the Agricultural Property Relief and Business Relief will be retained to support small business growth.

Labour Party

Trade: Labour intends to publish a trade strategy focusing on high standards in food production.

Procurement: A target of half of all public-sector food purchases to be locally produced or meet higher environmental standards is set.

Land Use: A land-use framework is planned, along with improvements to environmental land management schemes, to benefit both farmers and nature.

Access to Nature: Labour promises to enhance access to nature by creating new national river walks and national forests and expanding wetlands, peatlands, and forests.

Grid Access: There are plans to upgrade national transmission infrastructure to improve grid connections for rural areas.

Co-operatives: Labour aims to double the size of the UK’s co-operative and mutuals sector.

Bovine TB: Labour will work with farmers and scientists on measures to eradicate bovine TB, ending the ineffective badger cull.

Liberal Democrats

Agriculture Budget: The party plans to accelerate the rollout of Environmental Land Management schemes, adding an extra £1 billion annually to support sustainable and profitable farming.

Trade: The Liberal Democrats pledge to ensure Parliament approves international trade agreements and maintains high health, environmental, and animal welfare standards.

Supply Chain Fairness: They propose strengthening the Groceries Code Adjudicator to protect consumers and support producers.

Subsidies: Farmers will receive independent advice to help transition to new environmental farm payment schemes, with funding for advice services.

Biosecurity: All imported food must meet UK health and welfare standards, with proper checks in place.

Land Use: A strategic Land and Sea Use Framework will be developed to balance competing demands on land and oceans.

Bovine TB: Investments will be made in developing vaccines and other evidence-based methods to control bovine tuberculosis.

Green Party

Agriculture Budget: Financial support for farmers will nearly triple to aid the transition to nature-friendly farming.

Food Security: The Green Party aims to increase the amount of food grown and traded locally.

Education: Schools will involve children in growing, preparing, and cooking food as part of the core curriculum.

Farming Practices: The party proposes ending factory farming, enforcing maximum stocking densities, banning routine antibiotic use in farm animals, and abolishing close confinement in cages.

Access: A new English Right to Roam Act will extend public access to green spaces and waterways.

Pesticides: An immediate ban on bee-killing pesticides is planned.

Bovine TB: The party aims to end badger culling.

Reform UK

Agriculture Budget: Reform UK commits to maintaining a £3 billion farming budget.

Subsidies: Climate-related farming subsidies will be scrapped and replaced with direct payments.

Supply Chain Fairness: The Competitions and Markets Authority will be given powers to ensure fair pricing.

Labour: An Employer Immigration Tax will increase the National Insurance rate for foreign workers by 20%, with a freeze on non-essential immigration, except for healthcare.

Food Security: A target for 70% of food consumed to be UK-produced will be set.

Procurement: 75% of food for taxpayer-funded organisations will be sourced from the UK.

Education: Agricultural colleges and apprenticeships will be subsidised to encourage young people into farming.

Each political party has laid out a variety of plans and promises to improve the farming sector in the UK. From increased budgets and food security measures to labour and trade reforms, the 2024 General Election presents a critical moment for the future of farming. Farmers and those in the agricultural industry should consider these commitments carefully as they prepare to vote.