NFU President Minette Batters has congratulated Boris Johnson on his election as Conservative party leader and urged him to do everything in his power to ensure that our departure from the EU is carried out in a smooth and orderly way.
The NFU has been clear that an orderly departure, that includes free and frictionless trade with the EU, is crucial in delivering the best outcome for British food production.
Leaving the EU with a trade deal is vital to allow farm businesses and Britain’s food producers to have a viable and sustainable future – continuing to produce food to some of the highest global standards whilst at the same time protecting the iconic British natural environment.
In a letter to the incoming Prime Minister, the NFU is highlighting five additional policy priorities for the new Government:
· Stimulating farm business competitiveness and innovation through policies that ensure British farming is a leader in its field and result in a more resilient and advanced sector
· Rising to the challenges of tackling climate change through concerted government effort now to put in place the policies to help deliver the NFU’s ambition to reach net zero by 2040
· Promoting our high food standards through trade policy, building a globally recognised British Food Brand and ensuring our high standards of animal welfare and environmental protection are not undermined by trade deals that allows imports of food that would be illegal to produce in the UK.
· Ensuring an adequate supply of labour by delivering a future immigration system that is fit for purpose and recognises the specific needs and challenges of agriculture and horticulture
· A long-term budgetary commitment for food and farming through a new agricultural policy that rewards farmers fairly for delivering public goods, supports stability and resilience, and provides funding that recognises the long, multi-annual timeframes farmers and growers operate to.
Batters said: “British farming is one of the nation’s most important assets, delivering safe, traceable and affordable food to millions, all while taking care of the beautiful countryside we have such great pride in. It underpins the nation’s largest manufacturing sector, food and drink, contributing more than £120 billion to the economy and employing almost four million people.
“To achieve the best outcome from Brexit, we need to leave the EU in a smooth and orderly way. A deal with the EU is crucial to maintaining free trade with our closest neighbours and largest trading partners, as well as access to people that want to come to the UK to work on farms.
“Johnson has an opportunity to develop a new agricultural policy that works for Britain by creating a sustainable, vibrant and competitive future for our farming sector.
“We need to see policies that allow farm businesses to innovate, that help farmers rise to the challenge of tackling climate change, that enable farms access to the workers that pick, pack and grade our fruit, veg and flowers, and crucially an Agriculture Bill that is fit for purpose for the rising challenges of food production.
“I look forward to working with the incoming Prime Minister and his Government to ensure we can achieve this and that British farming is recognised as strategically important for the nation.
“I would also like to thank Theresa May for her efforts as Prime Minister and her willingness to engage with the food and farming sector at such a crucial time.”