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What the 2024 General Election Means for British Agriculture & Farming

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What the 2024 General Election Means for British Agriculture & Farming

As the UK gears up for the 2024 general election, the future of British farming is at the forefront of political discussions. The three main parties have unveiled their manifestos, each outlining pledges that could significantly impact the agricultural sector. Here’s a breakdown of where the Conservatives, Labour, and Liberal Democrats stand on key agricultural and farming issues.

Conservative Party

The Conservatives have made several commitments aimed at bolstering British agriculture:

  • Agricultural Budget Increase: Pledge to increase the UK agriculture budget by £1 billion.

  • Food Security: Introduction of a legally binding target to enhance food security.

  • Public Sector Sourcing: Promise to source at least 50% of public sector food locally or to higher environmental standards.

The party's focus on food security ties into broader national security concerns, reflecting the growing recognition of agriculture's critical role in the UK's stability.

In our podcast, AgriCulture Live, we recently interviewed the Conservative candidate for Sherwood, Sir Mark Spencer. You can listen to the interview on Spotify, or below:

Labour Party

Labour’s manifesto, while somewhat silent on the agricultural budget, includes other significant commitments:

  • Food Import Standards: Commitment to promoting the highest standards for food imports, aiming to ensure quality and safety.

  • Public Sector Sourcing: Similar to the Conservatives, Labour promises that at least 50% of public sector food will be sourced locally or adhere to higher environmental standards.

  • Badger Cull: Pledge to end the badger cull, which they have labeled as ineffective.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) has expressed disappointment with Labour's silence on the agricultural budget, highlighting its importance for transitioning from the old EU system to a more sustainable domestic model.

Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats have aligned closely with the Conservatives on budgetary issues, proposing the following:

  • Agricultural Budget Increase: Also committed to increasing the UK agriculture budget by £1 billion.

  • Public Sector Sourcing: Commitment to increasing public sector sourcing from British farms.

We recently interviewed the Liberal Democrat candidate for West Worcestershire, Dan Boatright-Green. It offers an insight into the Liberal Democrats policies and can be listened to on Spotify, or below:

The NFU's take on the manifestos

The NFU has responded to the manifestos with cautious optimism. NFU President Tom Bradshaw highlighted key positive aspects but stressed the critical need for a robust agricultural budget:

  • Budget Commitment: Emphasized as the most vital element, with calls for a £5.5 billion UK agricultural budget to support sustainable domestic food production.

  • Core Production Standards: Advocacy for developing standards that apply to all agri-food imports.

  • Food Security Index: Proposal for a new food security index and a statutory duty to monitor and report on domestic food production annually.

  • Environmental Schemes: Push for a smooth transition to new environmental schemes that are less bureaucratic and ensure long-term profitability for food-producing businesses.

  • Public Sector Sourcing: Support for the commitment to source 50% of food in the public sector from British farms.

Each party's pledges reflect different priorities and approaches to supporting the sector. Farmers and industry stakeholders will be closely watching the political landscape, hoping for policies that ensure a thriving, sustainable, and secure agricultural industry in the UK.The NFU’songoing engagement with candidates underscores the critical nature of these discussions, advocating for a robust framework that supports the vital work of British farmers.

What does this mean for farming jobs in the UK?

As an agency dedicated to the agricultural sector, Agricultural Recruitment Specialists are closely monitoring the 2024 general election pledges from the UK's three main political parties. These promises have significant implications for farming jobs across the country, and we’re here to help you understand what these changes might mean for the job landscape in British agriculture.

Increased Agricultural Budgets

The Conservative and Liberal Democrat pledges to increase the UK agriculture budget by £1 billion are set to create numerous job opportunities across the sector. This funding boost is likely to:

  • Expand Farm Operations: Increased budgets can enable farms to expand their operations, leading to more job openings for farm workers, managers, and technicians.

  • Support Agri-Tech Adoption: Enhanced funding will promote the adoption of new technologies in farming, creating roles such as agri-tech specialists, data analysts, and precision farming experts.

  • Research and Development: Investment in R&D will foster innovative agricultural practices, creating jobs in agricultural research, sustainability projects, and new crop development.

British countryside view showing farmers field, hay bales and a wind turbine on a sunny day

Food Security and Public Sector Sourcing

Commitments from both the Conservatives and Labour to source at least 50% of public sector food locally or to higher environmental standards will:

  • Boost Local Farming Jobs: Higher demand for locally sourced produce will increase job opportunities for local farmers, farm workers, and supply chain professionals.

  • Enhance Environmental Jobs: Emphasis on higher environmental standards will create roles focused on sustainable farming practices, environmental compliance, and organic farming.

Focus on Food Import Standards and Food Security

Labour’s commitment to promoting the highest standards for food imports and the Conservatives’ legally binding target to enhance food security highlight the importance of maintaining high-quality domestic production. This focus can lead to:

  • Regulatory and Compliance Roles: There will be a growing demand for professionals specialising in agricultural law, food safety standards, and compliance.

  • Quality Assurance: Jobs in quality assurance and control will be vital to ensure that both imported and domestically produced food meets the stringent standards set by the government.

Further Reading: