In preparation for the next General Election, the Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC) has launched its manifesto which calls on the UK government to address the “policy divergence” between the UK and EU.

The other two of the AIC’s three key manifesto asks are for the UK government to deliver on the ‘Powering Productivity for Sustainable UK Food Security’ report’s recommendation of an independent UK Food Security Committee, and for it to standardise sustainability metrics.

The AIC said these “core asks” have been developed following consultation with members and committees over the past year.

AIC chief executive, Robert Sheasby, said the AIC’s manifesto priorities tell MPs and prospective parliamentary candidates about what agri-supply businesses need from the next UK government.

“The agri-supply sector is a fundamental part of the wider food supply chain, supplying farmers and growers with the essential products, trusted advice and quality services they need in order to feed the nation,” he said.

“AIC’s key asks are to deliver on the “Powering Productivity for Sustainable UK Food Security” report recommendation of an independent UK Food Security Committee, to address policy divergence between the UK and EU, as well as within the UK home nations, and for standardisation of sustainability metrics.”

Food security

Sheasby said what the UK does with land resources and the food it produces matters for the economy, productivity, the environment and the public.

“Unlike other countries, the UK lacks a joined-up, cross-government strategy on land use or food security,” he said.

“To make long term, strategic planning decisions, businesses need to be clear on the next government’s vision for our land and the role of food producers within it.”

This is why, he said, the AIC is calling for an independent, statutory food security committee to be established considering the food production and land use balances needed for the UK and all Whitehall departments.


Sheasby said the next government must address the barriers that have arisen as a result of the UK-EU trade agreement, making goods “harder to import and export”.

“UK regulatory bodies are struggling with the implementation of this, and burdens are leading to costly delays and extra paperwork to trade in goods,” he said.

“This is also impacting the UK internal market, opening up inconsistencies in legislation across the four nations.”

Sheasby and the AIC are calling for the UK government to actively track and monitor divergences in policies and standards between the UK and EU, and within England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

“Currently there is no formal policy or mechanism established by the UK government to monitor or track the growing policy divergences between the UK and EU, with trade bodies and businesses left to undertake this crucial work themselves,” he said.

Sheasby is also asking the UK government to negotiate a functioning veterinary or ‘Sanitary/Phytosanitary (SPS)’ agreement with the EU. 

“This would allow goods to be traded more easily with the EU and with Northern Ireland, while respecting the UK’s independence in trade and legislation,” he said.

Sustainability consistency

In terms of sustainability, Sheasby said credentials are being requested at product and business level from consumers and supply chains.

“Access to consistent and accurate information is vital to build credibility and confidence in claims made alongside fairness in the food system,” he said.

The AIC is asking the next government to help facilitate this work and ensure UK agriculture is not disadvantaged.

“To deliver a net zero transition in our food supply chain, the next government must commit to a blended public and private finance landscape including tax credits and green transition support,” Sheasby said. 

“Other countries have made this investment already, and the UK risks being left behind.”