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The Implications of the 2024 General Election on the UK’s Agricultural Sector

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The Implications of the 2024 General Election on the UK’s Agricultural Sector

As the UK heads to the polls today, the results of the 2024 General Election will have significant repercussions for the food and farming policy landscape. This blog draws on insights from an article by Sustain, an alliance of organisations and communities dedicated to creating a better system of food, farming, and fishing. Sustain advocates for food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, enrich society and culture, and promote equity. Their analysis of political party manifestos provides a comprehensive overview of what these commitments mean for the future of sustainable farming, climate action, and public health in the UK.

Key Manifesto Commitments on Food and Farming

Conservative Party

The Conservatives have promised a legally binding target for farmers to enhance food security, integrated into a Land Use Framework. Their commitments include a £20 million UK-wide Farming Innovation Fund, fast-tracking permissions for farming infrastructure, and prioritising cutting-edge technology in fertilisers and vertical farming. They also emphasise maintaining high standards for food imports in new trade deals.

Labour Party

Labour’s manifesto highlights the introduction of a Land Use Framework and ensuring Environmental Land Management (ELMs) schemes benefit both farmers and nature. Their commitments extend to improving animal welfare and supporting sustainable farming practices.

Liberal Democrats

The Lib Dems propose an extra £1 billion for ELMs, strengthening the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA), and matching the EU's stricter rules on antibiotic use in farming. They aim to transition farmers towards environmentally friendly practices and ensure robust support for local food production.

Green Party

The Greens advocate for tripling support for farmers to transition to nature-friendly farming, ending factory farming, and reducing meat and dairy production. They also focus on expanding UK horticulture and enhancing local food networks and community-supported agriculture.

Reform Party

Reform pledges to increase the farming budget to £3 billion and set a target for 70% of UK-consumed food to be domestically produced. Their policies also include stopping supermarket price fixing, supporting smaller food processors and abattoirs, and providing subsidised courses for young people in agriculture.

Scottish National Party (SNP)

The SNP’s commitments involve sustainable funding for farming, restoring funding to pre-Brexit levels, and ensuring fair funding flows to devolved nations to support climate ambitions.

Plaid Cymru

Plaid Cymru emphasizes improving supply chain transparency, strengthening the Groceries Code Adjudicator, and building local food infrastructure. They advocate for more flexible Sustainable Farming Initiative (SFI) requirements and using procurement policies to support local food systems and create jobs.

general election poll cards

Assessing the Alignment with Sustain’s Manifesto

Sustainable Farming

Sustain’s Manifesto calls for a comprehensive land-use framework, agroecological farming funding, strengthened supply chain regulation, and support for local food systems. While some parties have made promising commitments, clarity and detail on spending priorities and supply chain fairness are crucial. The Green Party and Lib Dems show strong alignment with these goals, particularly in their support for the Groceries Code Adjudicator and commitments to reducing farm antibiotic overuse.

Climate Change and Nature

Sustain’s priorities include robust standards for food in public institutions, tackling river pollution, and adequately funding environmental protection bodies. The manifestos of Labour, the Lib Dems, and the Green Party reflect significant alignment with these goals, particularly in their support for high environmental standards in public procurement and reduction of meat and dairy consumption. However, there is a general lack of detail on addressing agricultural pollution.

rural landscape of fields and wind turbines

The Road Ahead

The 2024 General Election presents an opportunity for transformative change in the UK’s food and farming sector. As Agricultural Recruitment Specialists, we recognise the importance of these policies in shaping the future workforce and practices in agriculture. We will continue to monitor the election results and provide insights on how the new government’s policies will impact our industry.

Stay tuned for updates as we navigate through these changes together, ensuring that our clients and candidates are well-informed and prepared for the evolving agricultural landscape.

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