Farmers criticise Government’s “contradictory” agricultural policies

By Andrew Heskin, Partner and ARA specialist

The National Farmers Union (NF) has led a scathing attack on the Government for its introduction of “completely contradictory policies” on farming – criticising it for showing a total lack of understanding of how food production works.

In a speech at the NFU’s annual conference in Birmingham, Ms Batters told delegates that the Government’s energy and ambition for the countryside seem to be entirely focused on “anything other than food production.”

She went on to point out how farmers have suffered from plunging exports, increased red tape and staff shortages as EU seasonal workers have left and seem to have no desire to return.

Added to this is the growing crisis within the pig industry, which is facing near collapse due to a lack of skilled labour in the abattoir sector, which has resulted in the culling of 40,000 healthy animals, with many more on the horizon.

Describing the situation in the industry as a disgrace, Ms Batters talked of the “pain and palpable anger” felt by pig farmers, who feel “utterly let down” and are approaching mounting debt.

In a bid to help reverse the situation in agriculture, Ms Batters unveiled a new NFU report, entitled British farming: a blueprint for the future. The report highlights five key areas that the government, supply chain and farmers need to prioritise. These include:

  • A ‘dial up, dial down’ immigration policy
  • A properly funded Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) scheme
  • Government and retailer commitment and investment to buy and sell more British food at home and abroad.
  • To use the powers in the Agriculture Act to enable farmers and growers to trade fairly.
  • A new economic model that drives investment back into the land, ensuring the tenanted sector is not disadvantaged.

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