The UK government has today (Tuesday, February 20) announced a range of new measures aimed at boosting the productivity and resilience of the farming sector.

These measures include doubling investment in productivity, like the Improving Farming Productivity grant, which provides support for farmers to invest in automation and robotics.

The government’s investment is set to include the largest ever grant offer for farmers in the coming financial year, expected to total £427 million.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also announced a new annual UK-wide Food Security Index to capture and present data monitoring levels of food security.

He announced that the Farm to Fork Summit will be held annually and that £15 million will be allocated to help tackle food waste by enabling farmers to redistribute surplus food that cannot be used commercially at the farm gate.

The announcement of the new measures comes as new regulations are set to be laid in Parliament tomorrow (Wednesday, February 21) to ensure fair and transparent contracts for dairy farmers, meaning clearer pricing terms for farmers.

As well as this, other new regulations will mean changes to contracts cannot be imposed on farmers without their agreement and more straightforward ways for farmers to raise concerns about their contracts will be provided.

Alongside this, a review is also set to launch to improve fairness in the poultry supply chain.

British farming  

Environment Secretary Steve Barclay said:  “For generations, farmers have worked day in, day out to put food on our tables and are custodians of our beautiful British countryside.

“This is why we committed £2.4 billion to support British farming and have invested into the sector to boost agricultural productivity and resilience, increase food security and deliver for the environment, delivering on our plan. 

“This includes the largest ever package of competitions and grants to foster technology and innovation, bolstered by our increasingly popular farming schemes that support all types and size of farm businesses to produce food sustainably.”  

The government also confirmed farmers will benefit from the improved Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) from July this year, following the announcement by the Environment Secretary Steve Barclay in January.

Farming Minister Mark Spencer said: “Maintaining food security and boosting sustainable food production is vital as we see the impacts of more extreme weather and global events, and today’s announcements provide further support for farmers to deliver this while also protecting the environment.  

“Almost half of farmers across the country are already signed up to our farming schemes and we continue to work closely with farmers to tweak and improve our offer so as many farmers as possible are encouraged to get involved.” 

Further measures announced include making up to £500,000 available to deliver projects that support mental health in the farming sector and expanding permitted development rights to help farm businesses diversify and run profitable businesses, such as farm shops and sports venues.

Funding will also be provided to Internal Drainage Boards that protect agricultural land and rural communities from flooding wit the aim of helping areas recover from recent flooding events and modernising infrastructure to lower costs for farmers and increase their resilience to climate change.