CLA welcomes Prime Minister's raft of farming measures

Rishi Sunak makes pledges on funding, permitted development rights and food security
Flock of Sheep in Field
The Prime Minister is aiming to woo farmers, a week after a CLA poll found the Conservatives are on track to lose dozens of rural seats to Labour.

The CLA has welcomed a raft of farming measures on funding, permitted development rights and food security made by the Prime Minister.

Rishi Sunak has announced a £220 million package of funding for technology and innovation, to ensure farmers can access new equipment, including kit which increases automation to reduce reliance on overseas workers. It will also fund cost-saving energy measures, such as rooftop solar, to safeguard land for food production.

The funding doubles investment in productivity schemes, growing the grant offer from £91m last year to £220m next year.

And in the spring, the UK Government will double the management payments for the sustainable farming incentive scheme, putting up to an extra £,1000 in farmers’ pockets.

The money comes from the existing Defra budget of £2.4bn a year.

Country Land and Business Association President Victoria Vyvyan said:

“We are pleased the government is listening, and we welcome these funding commitments that will allow farmers to create a more productive and resilient industry.

“This funding recognises that farmers can't fight climate change or biodiversity decline on a shoestring budget decimated by inflation. Defra has under-spent its current budget for two years running, so the onus is now on making sure every penny is used to help deliver its world-leading Environment Land Management schemes (ELMs). Over the course of the next Parliament, the sector will need at least £4bn a year to deliver the sort of environmental outcomes the UK Government is seeking.

“The CLA has campaigned for years for the expansion of permitted development rights to cut red tape in the planning system. On that basis we welcome the news that it will be easier to convert disused farm buildings, and call on government to redouble its efforts in creating growth in the rural economy.”

Other measures include:

  • The Government will cut bureaucratic red tape around permitted development rights so farmers can more easily develop buildings and diversify earnings through farm shops, commercial space and sporting venues.
  • Plans to ensure all farmers and producers are treated fairly, with new regulations set to be laid in Parliament for the dairy sector, ensuring they have reasonable and transparent contracts. Similar regulations for the pig sector will come later this year, with the egg sector expected to follow.
  • The Government will publish an annual Food Security Index at the next Farm to Fork Summit this spring. The UK-wide index will capture and present the key data needed to monitor how we are maintaining our current levels of food security.

It comes a week after a CLA and Survation poll of 1,000 rural voters found the Conservatives are set to lose dozens of seats to Labour.

Read the full findings here.