Friday, December 15, 2017

Pledges for prosperous farming future as general election nears

May 31, 2017 by  
Filed under News & Business

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Politicians have laid out their pledges for agriculture as voters prepare to go the polls in this month’s general election.

Manifestos from the main parties include a number of promises for farming ahead of voting on 8 June. They cover a five-year parliament which will herald a raft of new policies for British agriculture as the UK leaves the European Union.

The Conservative manifesto pledges that payment to farmers will remain at current levels until 2022 – two years longer than previously promised. “We will continue to commit the same cash total in funds for farm support until the end of the parliament,” it says.

Stability

The Tories say maintaining payments will provide stability to farmers as the government and set up new frameworks for supporting food production and stewardship of the countryside. They previously pledged to keep payments at current levels until 2020.

Labour’s manifesto includes a pledge to protect UK farmers from cheap food imports post-Brexit. “Only a Labour government will prioritise a sustainable, long-term future for our farming, fishing and food industries,” it says.

Continued EU market access is seen as a priority by Labour. Securing it will enable British farmers to continue exporting agricultural products to the rest of Europe, says the document, warning that Brexit must not allow inferior food products to flood into the country.

Neonicotinoids

The Labour manifesto also pledges to protect bees by prohibiting neonicotinoid pesticides, end the policy of culling badgers to combat bovine tuberculsosis, and maintain the bans on fox hunting, deer hunting and hare coursing.

The Liberal Democrat manifesto reiterates the party’s belief that continued access to the European single market is a priority. Tariffs average 22% for agricultural products outside the EU – putting Britain’s £18bn of food exports in danger, it warns.

Promising a referendum on any Brexit deal secured by the government, the Lib Dem manifesto warn that Brexit “puts farming and agricultural businesses in huge danger, threatening both cuts to the support that underpin farmers’ livelihoods, and tariffs on exports”.

A Lib Dem government will continue to reform farm support, it adds, moving from direct payments to a system that rewards farmers who provide public goods, including environmental protection, flood prevention, food production and climate change mitigation.

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