Announcements in the Budget to cut national insurance bills and scrap fuel duty will go some way in helping farm businesses deal with spiralling costs, the NFU has said.
NFU President Peter Kendall commented: As always, we will examine the details in the coming days to get a much clearer picture of how this budget will help farming become more profitable and productive. But some of the specific announcements are to be welcomed.
New employment allowance to cut national insurance bills by 2,000 for every firm will benefit around 40,000 farm businesses in England and Wales that employ farm workers.
The cancellation of the fuel duty rise in September will help businesses across the economy, including food and farming industries that have been struggling to absorb rising fuel costs.
Im pleased to see the Government doing all it can to help the beer industry and in abolishing the beer tax escalator, the Chancellors demonstrated the huge importance of the beer industry to our rural economy; every one job in brewing supports a further job in agriculture.
And measures that could create a more competitive business environment in the UK are a positive step. In particular, news that the Government is committing over 1.6bn during the next ten years to its Industrial Strategy. This includes 500m for sectors where the UK has a comparative global advantage, including agricultural technology, with the aim of meeting the challenge of harnessing agricultural science to achieve sustainable improvement of agriculture in the UK and overseas.
However, I am disappointed to have heard so little from the Chancellor that will give our farmers and growers the confidence they need to invest in their businesses. The UK agri-food has some tremendous opportunities ahead. Globally, demand for food is growing, stimulating further potential for exports beyond the EU. At home, there remains an opportunity to expand our share of domestic markets as we witness unprecedented levels of awareness of food provenance and origin in the wake of the horsemeat scandal.
Last years Autumn Statement contained the welcome announcement on the Annual Investment Allowance, and this is already encouraging plant and machinery expenditure in agriculture. Todays budget failed to deliver equivalent measures for farm buildings and infrastructure. It is capital investment which is the real trigger for meeting the long term challenge of food security.