Labour promises to implement a “fresh agreement for farmers” in order to enhance the agricultural sector in the UK.

Measures include target for British food in public institutions and seeking veterinary deal with EU

Labour has promised to enhance food security and boost the UK’s agriculture sector with a “new deal for farmers” that aims to ensure that at least half of the food used in hospitals, schools, and prisons is British.

Expressing criticism towards the Conservatives for allegedly neglecting farmers, the plan also reiterates Labour’s proposal to negotiate a new veterinary agreement with the EU.

If successful, this agreement would significantly reduce bureaucratic procedures for British farmers by eliminating numerous checks on food and agricultural goods at ports. However, reaching an agreement would involve lengthy and intricate negotiations, potentially requiring the UK to adhere to EU standards on these goods.

Labour has condemned the “Tory destruction of our rural economy” and claims that their analysis reveals over 6,300 firms in the UK agricultural sector have ceased operations since 2017, including nearly 5,000 meat, fruit, vegetable, and dairy producers.

During the same period, there has been a 30% decline in jobs within agriculture, forestry, and fishing, according to the party.

While many in the industry attribute the harm to their competitiveness to Brexit and its implementation, the Labour plan does not explicitly mention the UK’s departure from the EU but rather focuses on the pledge to seek a veterinary deal. However, the party acknowledges that barriers caused by Brexit have played a role.

Among the five components of the farming plan, all have been previously proposed by Labour. In addition to the target for British food in public institutions and the EU deal, the others consist of providing farmers with cheaper power through GB Energy, a publicly-owned clean power company; assisting farmers in feeding surplus renewable energy into the grid; and the creation of a flood resilience taskforce.

Steve Reed, the shadow environment, food, and rural affairs secretary, stated, “This Conservative government has devastated our farmers. It is time that we move forward and embrace a decade of national renewal with the countryside at its core.

Labour will restore the future of British farmers. We will reduce energy costs for farmers by activating GB Energy, minimize border bureaucracy to revive our exceptional food exports, and utilize the government’s purchasing power to support British produce.”

Mark Spencer, the Minister of State for Food, Farming, and Fisheries, declared, “Labour is incapable of supporting British farming. When they were in government, they failed to provide the necessary connectivity, jobs, and investment for rural communities, and years later they still lack a plan to support the countryside.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives have delivered targeted funding for farmers, safeguarded our finest farmland, and accelerated grid connections for those in need.”

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