Labour has 'a lot to do' to secure farmer confidence, sheep sector warns

Labour has won a landslide general election victory following 14 years of Conservative Rule
Labour has won a landslide general election victory following 14 years of Conservative Rule

The new Labour government has 'a lot to do' to secure farmer confidence following its landslide general election victory, the sheep sector has said.

The National Sheep Association (NSA) warned that Labour had 'made little reference' to the farming industry during the pre-election campaigning period.

The party's manifesto was also 'short on detail and depth' and, when questioned on future agriculture budgets, it responded that farmers needed more understanding of the value and benefits of investments to date.

NSA chief executive, Phil Stocker said: “NSA agrees with this but we are also strongly of the opinion that current budgets are inadequate given the urgency of many challenges ahead."

The NSA's priorities for the sheep sector include a commitment to increase agricultural budget and recognising food production as public good.

Mr Stocker said that now was "the time to engage, listen and develop a food, rural, agriculture and land use policy that supports rural communities and food security in the UK".

“We want to start that stability with continuity with the shadow team that has engaged so far with industry. A change of personnel into these roles will not be welcomed," he added.

The NSA also warned that agriculture was still within 'transition' away from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), and in addition had suffered from several years of turmoil.

It said there was an urgent need for 'wider and deeper' impact assessments of the new farming and environmental schemes, as well as more complete recognition of public goods delivery – including food production.

Mr Stocker said: “It is imperative there is not another U-turn in policy for the industry, instead existing policy needs to be built upon and fundamental issues raised by the wider industry addressed.”

NSA policy manager, Emma Bradbury added that there had been a continued lack of commitment to food security over the past decade.

"We cannot ignore our own food insecurity and must appreciate the production capabilities of our own agricultural systems," she warned.

“Now is the time for Labour to put in the work and secure confidence in our rural communities.”