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UK NFU says that government Spending Review presents a mixed picture for farmers

NFU President Minette Batters has responded to the UK Chancellor's Spending Review, saying that farmers are left with funding gaps and scant details on new agricultural policy.

26 November 2020, at 7:34am

Responding to the Chancellor’s Spending Review announcement on 25 November, NFU President Minette Batters said: “Today’s announcement presents a mixed picture for our farmer and grower members.

“For farmers in England, it is good news that the government has confirmed its manifesto pledge to maintain existing levels of farm support. There is still more detail needed on how we transition to a new domestic agricultural policy and it is crucial we hear more detail on this as soon as possible.

“However Welsh farmers appear to be facing a significant funding gap of £95 million, compared to existing EU funding. This is unacceptable and clearly not consistent with the government’s levelling up agenda. The UK government must preserve existing levels of funding for Welsh agriculture.

“Other elements of the Spending Review do provide opportunities for farm businesses. The infrastructure investment can be an important source of funding for farmers to drive green economic recovery, continue their transition to net zero and cement their place as world leaders in climate-friendly food production. For this to happen, it’s crucial that these funding schemes, such as the Shared Prosperity Fund, are easily accessible for farm businesses.

“I am pleased that part of this commitment to infrastructure investment includes doubling spending on flood and coastal defences. Many farmers are still suffering from the effects of catastrophic flooding earlier in the year, so it is vital as a nation we invest more in updating flood defences against more frequent extreme weather events.

“It’s also encouraging to see the government further invest in the rollout of rural broadband and it is absolutely imperative this happens as quickly as possible to ensure the digital divide between rural and urban areas doesn’t continue to widen.

“We will continue to analyse the detail of the Spending Review and what this will mean for farmers and growers, including the purpose of the £572 million allocated to Defra to prepare for the end of the transition period.”