The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has said the Labour Party’s manifesto is “silent” about how it will unlock the growth potential of the rural economy.

The party has claimed that it will “champion British farming whilst protecting the environment” if elected on July 4.

However, CLA president Victoria Vyvyan said it has given no details about how it will do this.

“Labour says its top focus is economic growth, but its manifesto is silent about how it will unlock the growth potential of the rural economy,” she said.

“It says it will support farmers by continuing the Environmental Land Management schemes, but gives no details about the agricultural budget.

“The manifesto supports reform of the planning system, but again, no detail is provided.”

‘More thinking needs to be done’

Vyvyan said the manifesto suggests that Labour is listening, and welcomes the manner in which the party has engaged with the agricultural sector, but said that “much more thinking needs to be done to deliver the serious change in business environment the countryside needs”.

“The rural economy is 19% less productive than the national average, with many barriers such as poor connectivity, an outdated planning system and poor skills provision. By closing this gap, we could add £43 billion to the national GDP,” she said.

In its manifesto, the Labour Party said that it recognises that food security is national security.

“We will set a target for half of all food purchased across the public sector to be locally produced or certified to higher environmental standards,” it said.

“We will introduce a land-use framework and make environment land management schemes work for farmers and nature.

“And we will work with farmers and scientists on measures to eradicate bovine TB, protecting livelihoods, so that we can end the ineffective badger cull.”

The party’s details on “supporting British farmers” ends there, but it explained how it plans to improve animal welfare by banning trail hunting and the import of hunting trophies.

“We will end puppy smuggling and farming, along with the use of snare traps. And we will partner with scientists, industry, and civil society as we work towards the phasing out of animal testing,” it said.