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Batters calls for new government approach to UK agriculture

As we enter a new year, industry leaders are warning the government that it is time to ‘get serious’ about British farming.

The past 12 months have been challenging for farmers across multiple sectors, with labour shortages, trade deals and increasing input costs. Add to that, a loud and continuous criticism of farming practices by environmental lobbies, plus wholesale changes to payments schemes and incentives and it is easy to see why UK farmers are feeling the pressure.

NFU President Minette Batters has been vocal in her call for the government to back British farming with action not merely words. Despite the naysayers, said Batters, public support for farming and pride in British-produced food is rising, with farmers being recognised as key workers. That should encourage the government to put the right policy framework in place to allow farmers to keep producing high quality food and to care for the countryside.

In a new year message first published on the farming website farming.com, Batters said: ‘We can drive the rural economy, enhance our natural environment, contribute to net zero targets and care for our cherished countryside, all while producing more home-grown, local food for shop shelves.’

But she said the next 12 months would lay the foundations for a thriving food and farming sector, where farmers were competitive both at home and abroad.

To spearhead this, the government and ministers needed to create an agriculture policy which had a resilient food supply chain ‘at its heart’.

Batters criticised the trade deal recently agreed with Australia because of the competitive disadvantage it put UK farmers at. Future trade deals needed to be more supportive of British farmers to allow them to be part of Global Britain. Batters called for the government to take action to prevent a situation where British food is replaced by imports, many of which fall short of UK standards of animal welfare and environmental protection.