The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has said the Labour Party’s failure to mention an agriculture budget in its manifesto is “deeply disappointing”.

The Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties have now all set out their general election manifestos, which include policies they would implement to support British farming, growing and food security if elected.

The NFU said all three parties have recognised the importance of food security to our national security, and has welcomed the fact that the three parties have included this in their manifestos.

However, NFU president Tom Bradshaw said the “single most vital element” is the agricultural budget.

“This isn’t just ‘money for farmers’, it’s the funding which helps the sector transition away from the old EU system, allows farm businesses to invest for the future and makes governments’ aims around sustainable food production, food security, the environment and net zero possible,” he said.

“It’s funding to help underpin the UK’s largest manufacturing sector – food and drink – which contributes more than £128 billion to the national economy and provides jobs for four million people.

“Our members will welcome the Lib Dem and Conservative commitments to increase the UK agriculture budget by £1 billion and protect it.”

Bovine TB and key asks

Bradshaw said the language around bovine TB in the Labour Party’s manifesto – in which it claims the badger cull has been ineffective – is “incredibly unhelpful”.

“It disregards the latest science showing a 56% decline in this awful disease – which we should remember kills thousands of cattle a year – and disrespects the incredible efforts our members have made to try and deliver TB eradication by 2038.

“We are continuing to engage with candidates across all parties to highlight the importance of a thriving homegrown food sector, and the need for resilient and profitable farming and growing businesses to underpin it.”

Some of the NFU’s key asks of the parties have been:

  • A commitment to a UK agricultural budget that underpins sustainable domestic food production, delivers for the environment and supports all land tenures. It believes a UK agricultural budget of £5.5 billion would deliver this;
  • Developing core production standards that apply to all agri-food imports;
  • Establishing a new food security index and target, including a statutory duty to monitor and report on domestic food production levels each year;
  • A smooth and seamless transition to new environmental schemes that are open to all farmers and growers, less bureaucratic and ensure profitable long-term food-producing businesses;
  • A commitment to source 50% of food into the public sector from British farms.