NFU Conference: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak outlines support measures... but there is no more money

Grants, SFI extensions, cuts to red tape and supply chain intervention all named as Prime Minister vows to stand by farmers

clock • 2 min read
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has unveiled his plans for UK agriculture
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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has unveiled his plans for UK agriculture

The Prime Minister has unveiled a raft of farming support measures, including easing planning red tape and a boost to grant funding, although there will be no further money assigned to the sector.

Delivering the keynote address at the NFU Conference in Birmingham, Rishi Sunak announced a multi-million-pound uplift in grant funding, taking the figure from £91 million to around £220m. This according to Defra, would ensure the Government remained on track to meet its spend of £2.4 billion for this Parliament.

Read more: Farmers need confidence in grants

Mr Sunak said funds will also be allotted for cost-saving energy measures, such as rooftop solar, to safeguard land for food production, as well as boosting support for processing, packing and retailing on farms.

Mr Sunak said key legislation around dairy contracts would be introduced in Parliament tomorrow (February 21)

He told delegates: "While the importance of farmers will never change - farming is going through its biggest change in a generation. And as farmers do so, this Government will be by their side. 

"They have been dealing with soaring global prices in things like fuel and fertiliser. So, we have been working hard to get inflation down - from 11.1 per cent last year to 4 per cent now. And we are increasing payments in our farming schemes by an average of 10 per cent."

He continued:  "We will never take our food security for granted. We have got a plan to support British farming - and we are going further again today."

Mr Sunak also promised more 'good news' for those already on or considering joining one of the Government's Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) schemes as Mr Sunak announced the doubling of management payments for SFI, ‘putting up to an extra £1,000 in farmers' pockets'.

Read more: SFI must fit into farm business

The scheme will be further extended in July, opening up to the Countryside Stewardship mid-tier, ‘ensuring there is a single front door to make the application process even easier'.

Mr Sunak added: "I know how important my neighbours - our farmers - truly are. You help to employ millions, add billions to our economy, shape the landscape, but most of all, you produce the food we need - food that is some of the best and highest quality anywhere in the world."

The Prime Minister also announced a number of measures to make diversification easier by cutting bureaucratic red tape around permitted development rights so farmers can easily develop buildings and diversify earnings through farm shops, commercial space and sporting venues. 

Supply chain

A new supply chain fairness review of the poultry sector is also set to be launched, and Defra is expected to consult stakeholders on whether the sheep and beef sectors should follow.

The Prime Minister also revealed that the Government would launch a Food Security Index at the next Farm to Fork Summit this spring, which has now been added as an annual event.

 

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