The Prime Minister has announced a new package of measures to support the farming sector following intense lobbying from the CLA.
Speaking at the Farm to Fork summit at 10 Downing Street, attended by CLA President Mark Tufnell, the Prime Minister said that farmers will benefit from a commitment to protect their interests in future trade deals, as well as from measures to boost domestic fruit and veg production and new investment in technologies.
To give further certainty to the sector, government also announced that 45,000 visas will be available again to the horticulture sector next year, enabling them to plan ahead for the picking season.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:
“I will always back British farmers, and I pay tribute to their hard work and dedication all year round which keeps shelves stocked and food on our tables.
“Supporting our farmers and food producers must, and always will be, at the heart of our plans to grow the economy and build a more prosperous country.
“That’s why I’m proud to host this summit, and working together, I’m determined to build resilience, strengthen our food security and champion the best of British at home and overseas.”
CLA President Mark Tufnell said:
“British produce is the best in the world, with our farmers upholding the highest environmental and animal welfare standards. These announcements represent a meaningful show of support from the UK Government, and show that the Prime Minister is willing to listen to the farming community who have long called for specific action on food security and economic growth.
“We call on the government to go a step further by developing a robust and ambitious plan for the rural economy as a whole. The rural economy is 19% less productive than the national average, but closing that gap would add £43bn to national GVA. This means bringing forward new planning reforms, investing in our infrastructure and skills and building a small number of homes in a large number of villages across the country."
Ministers need to share the ambitions of our rural entrepreneurs, and have a laser like focus on unlocking the immense potential of our communities
In a letter addressed to UK farmers, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak sets out the key principles behind the latest farming support package.
The government announcements include the following:
To boost trade and export opportunities to get more British food on plates across the world, building on the £24b a year generated by our food and drink exports:
- Farmers’ interests will be put at the heart of trade policy through a new framework for trade negotiations, committing to protect the UK’s high food and welfare standards and prioritise new export opportunities. The Prime Minister has written an open letter to farmers today setting out how these new principles will help the industry benefit from the trade opportunities available to us outside the EU.
- Investing £2m to boost the programme of global trade shows and missions, as well as providing £1.6m for the GREAT food and drink campaign.
- Building on existing overseas network with five additional agri-food and drink attaches who will spearhead the removal of restrictive market barriers.
- Extend funding to promote seafood exports around the world with an extra £1 million between 2025 and 2028, and create a new bespoke £1m programme to help dairy businesses, particularly SMEs, to seize export opportunities, particularly in the Asia pacific region.
The government will unlock the benefits of innovative technologies to strengthen our food security, cementing the UK’s leadership in this field through:
- Up to £30m of investment to drive forward the use of precision breeding technologies, building on the £8m already invested over the last five years and the passing of the Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Act earlier this year.
- The creation of a new working group – bringing together plant breeders, food manufacturers and retailers – to get produce from farms to the shelves.
The government will protect the interests of farmers by making sure they get a fair price for their produce:
- To use new powers under the Agriculture Act to improve transparency and contracts in the pork and dairy markets.
- Announcing additional reviews into fairness in the horticulture and egg supply chains, in light of the impact of global challenges on these sectors in particular.
- Recognising the unique role and needs of the sector, and listening to the calls from the NFU, FDF and others, the Grocery Code Adjudicator will not be merged with the Competition and Markets Authority, in recognition of its importance in ensuring our food supply chains function as they should.
The horticulture sector is worth £5 billion across the UK and the government will support the industry to boost production and extend the growing season by:
- Confirming improvements to future support for horticulture by replacing the retained EU Fruit and Vegetable Producer Organisation Scheme when it closes in 2026 with an expanded offer as part of the new farming payment schemes.
- This will be tailored to the needs of domestic growers and will be more inclusive than the EU scheme, ensuring it is a good offer for glasshouses as well as other growers.
- Helping the controlled horticulture sector overcome barriers to accessing government schemes, including by looking at how the sector is classified.
- Making it easier to build new glasshouses through changes to national planning policy.
Further announcements to increase the resilience of the sector and support its growth include:
- Plans to cut the red tape currently holding farmers back from delivering projects on their land to diversify their incomes, such as repurposing farm buildings to use as shops, with a call for evidence later this year.
- Increasing water security by accelerating work on water supply infrastructure, so that farmers can count on steady access to water, including in periods of intense dry weather.