Farmers share their dreams and nightmares ahead of general elections

Farmers from around the UK have shared their dreams and nightmares as the general election approaches. 

Thanks to Just Farmers, farmers and growers from around the UK have shared their dreams and nightmares as the general election approaches.
Photos by Just Farmers.

As the 2024 general election looms on 4th July, the big debate has been: which party will do most for British farming? 

Farmers Guide asked farmers across social media channels which political party supports the farming community best. 

According to our readers, Conservatives would best care for farmers’ needs (37% of votes). Second place was given to Reform UK, Green or others (25%), Lib Dems were placed third (23%) and Labour was last (15%).

Just Farmers, a communications project that enables farmers to use their voice for positive change in UK farming, has also asked farmers what they need from the future government as well as what their election dreams and nightmares currently are.

READ MORE: General election 2024: Which party will do most for British farming?

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Idealistic wishes 

Robert Graham

Robert Graham, who has been farming cereal crops on the Essex/Hertfordshire border since 1980, shared his election priorities, which are health, social care, education for all, and taking climate change seriously. 

The farmer said that his election nightmare is “more of the same incompetence and corruption. The self-centred mindset of many modern politicians just sickens me. Enough said.” 

The Labour voter added: “I grew up in a God-fearing, Mail reading, Tory voting farming family. But we were not wealthy, so I went to a comprehensive school where I was encouraged to think for myself. 

“My life experience from that point on has taken me steadily to the left of the political spectrum. 

“Sadly, I am aware of my naivety, and I do not think that Keir Starmer is able to deliver my idealistic wishes. But I hope, like Biden, that he can deliver some radical policies beyond the manifesto promises and the grey persona portrayed in the media.  

“The cautious, non-committal approach for which he is criticised perhaps masks a radical streak which will come through if he is elected. And, as with past Labour governments from the 1940s through to the 1960s, I would expect Labour to be more concerned with food security than the free trade fanatics of the right.” 

READ MORE: Labour manifesto: ‘Food security is national security’

A tough job to do 

Rees Keene

Rees Keene is a fourth-generation farmer producing vegetables, fruit and Christmas trees on the family’s 170-acre farm in Gloucestershire. He said that his election dream includes: a plan to improve the economy, get help and support from local planning authorities and tackle the planning policies. 

The farmer added that his election nightmare would be poorly thought-out financial planning and taxes designed to appeal to voters rather than fix any issues, as well as “going crazy on the green focus”. 

“My election colours are blue, but currently a little embarrassed to be. I wouldn’t say it’s in my veins. I’d jump ship if I felt another party offered a better solution to my concerns. I do not envy those in power, whoever it is has a tough job to do and will always face criticism,” he concluded. 

READ MORE: Conservative manifesto: What does it promise for farmers?

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Genuine interest in improving food security 

Flavian Obiero

Flavian Obiero, who has recently taken over the tenancy of a council-owned farm in Hampshire, said he had not made a decision yet on who to vote for. 

He said: “I don’t feel there are any politicians out there currently that can deliver what they keep promising. Any party that has genuine interest in improving food security will get my vote.” 

Mr Obiero added that his election dream would be having a government that actually does what it says it wll do. However, his nightmare would be Conservatives staying in power. 

READ MORE: Reform UK releases ‘contract’ for 2024 election

Uniting people 

On the undecided side is also Ruth Grice, who works on a family farm in Leicestershire that was bought by her grandfather and great-grandfather in the 1950s. 

Ruth Grice

She said her priorities were: “Electing a party I feel I can trust, more than others that is. I will vote for a party that will unite people. My biggest concern is that politics is becoming more extreme, more right wing, and more polarising.  

“For every campaign out there to spread more kindness in the world, it feels like there’s another that’s based on fear and hate. On a farming front, electing a party that gets rural issues.  

“I really feel for Welsh farmers at the moment – it appears from the sidelines that they have everything against them, policy wise.  

“I don’t think we’d stay in business for long if we were operating under similar circumstances.” 

Ms Grice added that her election dream would be creating a rural policy that is based on scientific evidence, while her nightmare would be electing Nigel Farage. 

READ MORE: Food security lacking from election campaigns, open letter says

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Good handle on economy 

John Pawsey

John Pawsey, who runs an organic mixed arable and sheep farm in Essex, as well as managing another for neighbouring organic farmers, said he will vote for Liberal Democrats. 

He added: “I was blue but have just joined the Green Party. I will probably vote yellow, as long as I think they have a good handle on the economy. 

“My election priorities are aligned to a government that has a firm grasp in dealing with a fragile economy but also a government that delivers on positive climate and nature recovery targets. 

“My election dream would be making real progress towards net zero and a better State of Nature report. My election nightmare is a government who wouldn’t commit to the above.” 

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

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Investing in public services 

Josh and Abi Heyneke

Josh Heyneke, who together with his partner Abi owns a small mixed regenerative farm in South West Wales, said he will vote for either Labour or Green Party. 

He said: “My election priorities are closing the tax loophole for multinational companies in the UK, as well as investing in British industry, in clean energy, regenerative agriculture and the NHS. 

“My election dream is the development of a tax system that works properly, allowing the government to invest more in public services like education, clean energy, agriculture, and health care. The election nightmare, however, is ‘more of the same’.” 

READ MORE: Green manifesto: Party would triple funding for nature-friendly farming 

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