Farm leader Minette Batters urged the government to invest in UK agriculture, highlighting its immense contribution to the national economy.
Investments in farming will not only produce food, but will bring huge benefits to the country, Batters said at the NFU annual meeting on Tuesday (23 February).
See also: Labor leaders promise closer relationships with farmers
The NFU report, Leveling up Rural Britain (PDF), launched in time for the conference and suggests that investment in agricultural and rural communities could create jobs and improve the well-being of the country.
The report says that rural areas of England have been uniquely deployed to help the country recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
A stronger country
The countryside not only produces nutritious, sustainable and affordable British food, it says it can provide physical and mental health through farm landscapes.
Mrs Batters said: If in the last 12 months we have all been together and learned that a country that raises the level of everyone everywhere is a stronger country.
She added: British level-up is not just a North-South issue. Raising the level of the UK is also a country/urban issue.
Agriculture is one of the only remaining major production sectors in the UK, she said.
I want to emphasize that it supports the economic stability of 70% of the country and accounts for 70% of the land mass.
A huge investment
Food & Beverage was the largest manufacturing sector in the UK with an annual value of 120 billion to the economy, attracting huge investments from foreign-owned food companies.
This business is for one reason because the raw materials are grown here,” she said.
The government should encourage more investment, including UK investment in the success story of British food.
We must enable collaborative green growth to raise the level of rural UK providing economic solutions to genuine One Nation UK.
Secretary-General George Youthtis Defra, who spoke at the conference, said that now that Britain has left the EU, farmers can face the future with confidence.
Strong market prices continue to emerge in many farm sectors, and food production self-sufficiency in the UK has increased for the first time since 2014.
Some areas, such as pigs, have had problems, but despite the coronavirus pandemic, profitability has improved in many agricultural sectors.
Eustice said it plans to use the powers of agricultural law to strengthen farmers’ position in the supply chain and bring transparency to the market.
He has also expressed his intention to support new entrants by working with local councils and other partners to help them access land and start their own farm business.
The new payouts and incentives will reward farmers for making more sustainable farming, creating space for nature on the land, improving animal welfare and reducing carbon emissions, Eustice said.
The era of top-down EU rules is over. Our future policy is to support farmers making choices for their possessions.
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