General election: What is each party promising farmers?

With the polls opening on 4th July, Farmers Guide provides a summary of what each political party has promised farmers during the general election campaign.

polling station sign

Recent weeks have seen fierce clashes between the major parties as they vie for votes in the general election – and opinion polls continue to indicate a Labour victory.

Polls and discussions on farming forums show clear disillusionment with the Conservatives, particularly as a result of the fallout from Brexit and impact of new trade deals.

A recent online poll of Farmers Guide readers indicated a majority intend to vote Reform UK, with the Conservatives coming in second place, and Liberal Democrats in third.

There has been pushback among farmers over Labour’s 87-word manifesto for farming – and rumours that the party will reform Inheritance Tax rules on agricultural land.

Kramp advert on farm machinery website

Farming and food and drink organisations have also criticised all party leaders for the absence of food security in their public campaigning.

As you prepare to cast your vote, we summarised what each party has promised farmers.

READ MORE: Farmers share their dreams and nightmares ahead of general elections

Conservatives

Rishi sunak on blue background
The Conservatives have said they will increase the farming budget by £1bn over the parliament.
  • Increase the UK-wide agricultural budget by £1 billion over the parliament
  • Maintain and build on its approach to ELM schemes to ensure it works for all farmers, including tenant and upland farmers
  • Reform the planning system to deliver fast track permissions for the building of infrastructure on farms, including glasshouses, slurry and grain stores and small-scale reservoirs
  • A promise to ‘always stand up for farmers when negotiating new trade deals’
  • For farm labour, a five-year visa tapered scheme – alongside investment in automation and promoting agri-careers and skills
  • Ensure 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 
  • Continue to ringfence agricultural funding, alongside a new UK-wide £20 million Farming Innovation Fund.

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

Gatemaster advert on farming news site

Labour

Keir Starmer
Labour’s manifesto under Keir Starmer outlined plans to end the badger cull if elected, and work on other measures to eradicate bTB.
  • Set a target for half of all food purchased across the public sector to be locally produced or certified to higher environmental standards
  • Introduce a land-use framework and ‘make environment land management schemes work for farmers and nature’
  • Work with farmers and scientists on measures to eradicate bovine TB, with a view to ending the ‘ineffective’ badger cull.

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

Plug & Cool advert on farm machinery website

Reform UK

Nigel Farage
Nigel Farage’s Reform UK ‘contract’ promises to replace climate-related subsidies with direct payments.
  • Increase farming budget to £3 million with a focus on smaller farms and keeping farmland in use
  • Scrap climate-related subsidies and replace them with direct payments
  • Protect country sports
  • Grant powers to the Competitions and Markets Authority to ensure supermarkets pay farmers fairly
  • Change planning laws to support farm shops with zero business rates
  • Target 70% of the UK’s food being produced in the UK
  • Tax breaks and other incentives for smaller food processors and abattoirs to cut transport costs and promote animal welfare
  • Cut red tape from HMRC and the British Cattle Movement Service
  • Subsidised courses at agricultural colleges and apprenticeships.

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

ed davey
Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats.

Liberal Democrats

  • Introduce a National Food Strategy to ensure food security, tackle rising food prices, end food poverty and improve health and nutrition
  • Accelerate the rollout of ELM schemes, with an extra £1 billion a year funding
  • Ensure trade deals do not undercut British farmers, and match the UK’s high health, environmental and animal welfare standards
  • Allow farmers to trade with Europe with minimal need for checks – by negotiating comprehensive veterinary and plant health agreements
  • Support farmers properly in restoring woodland, peatland and waterways, creating new natural flood protections and managing land to encourage species recovery and carbon storage, while producing food.

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

Limagrain advert on farm machinery website

Green Party

Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsey, co-leaders of the Green Party.
Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsey, co-leaders of the Green Party.
  • Almost triple financial support for farmers, to help them transition to nature-friendly farming
  • Conserve and improve biodiversity and soil, leading to cleaner rivers
  • Link farm payments to reduced use of pesticides and other agro-chemicals
  • Free school meals each day and free breakfast clubs for all children up to Year 6
  • Involve schoolchildren in growing, preparing and cooking food, as part of the core curriculum
  • Ensure good quality surplus food is not wasted.

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

Read more political news.


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