Conservative manifesto: What does it promise for farmers?

Prime minister Rishi Sunak has today (11th June) unveiled the Conservative manifesto, with pledges for farming covering planning reform, labour and trade deals.

Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak arrived at Silverstone racing track this morning to deliver the Conservative manifesto for the 2024 general election.

For farming, the Tories are promising to increase the UK-wide budget by £1 billion over the parliament. 

Farmers will be able to spend every penny of this on grants to boost domestic food production, the manifesto says.

The party will also seek to maintain its approach to Environmental Land Management (ELM) schemes and build on its work to date, to ensure it works for all farmers, including tenant and upland farmers.

Planning reform key for votes

Planning permission red tape is a significant issue for many farmers and a recent Country Land and Business Association survey even suggested planning reform is key to winning rural seats.

The Conservative manifesto promises reform to the planning system to deliver fast track permissions for the building of infrastructure on farms. 

This includes glasshouses, slurry and grain stores and small scale reservoirs.

READ MORE: Lib Dems promise an extra £1bn a year for ELMS

Trade deals

Having come under fire in recent years for controversial trade deals, the Tories are promising to ‘always stand up for farmers when negotiating new trade deals’.

The party reiterates promises made at the Farm to Fork Summit 2023 to ensure UK farming is at the heart of UK trade.

‘We will always look for the right deal for farmers. We will continue to support UK agri-food and drink attaches in our embassies abroad, pioneering new markets and new opportunities for our domestic food and drink industry.’


Referring to another significant issue for agriculture and horticulture, the party promises to ‘stick to our plan’ on supporting the farming sector with the labour it needs to maintain food security.

But it wants to move away from reliance on seasonal migrant labour.

The Tories are planning a five-year visa tapered scheme – alongside clear investment in automation and promoting agri-careers and skills.

Other Conservative pledges include:

  • Delivering its goal of ensuring 50% of food expenditure in the public sector is spent on food produced locally or to higher environmental standards.
  • Use significant investment in R&D to prioritise cutting edge technology in areas such as vertical farming and fertiliser.
  • Introduce a legally binding target to enhance food security. This would apply UK-wide alongside the UK Food Security Index, helping to determine where best to concentrate farming funds. This would also feed into the development of the Land Use Framework. 
  • Continue to ringfence agricultural funding so it’s passed directly onto farming and rural communities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, alongside a new UK-wide £20 million Farming Innovation Fund.

The manifesto also takes aim at Labour, stating: ‘Labour’s actions in Wales show that they will never be on the side of the farming community.

‘This blueprint involves top-down targets, fundamentally denying farmers the flexibility they need to achieve environmental goals in ways that work for them and making their primary job of keeping the nation fed harder.

‘Conservatives will always be on the side of farmers.’

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