It is widely anticipated that all of Northern Ireland’s political parties and agri/food stakeholder groups will be putting forward their strategic priorities over the coming days, as the countdown to the December 12th General Election date gets underway.
There is growing pressure for all the main political groups to come forward with a clear statement of intent, where farming and food are concerned.
The food and farming alliance ‘Sustain’ has launched its manifesto for the election. It is calling on all the political parties across the UK to put farming and food at the very heart of their election manifestos. Sustain represents the interests of 100 food and farming organisations.
Some of the key policies set out by the alliance include extra monetary support for farmers fighting climate change and nature loss, a new children’s right to food, recommitting to the sugar tax, and reallocation of fish quotas to small fishers.
Sustain believes that future governments must protect the UK’s food, farming and fishing standards in future legislation and trade deals. The organisation’s manifesto also includes policy ideas to create good food jobs, end hunger and champion children’s food and health.
In addition, the document recommends commitments to reduce food waste by 50%, relaxing cosmetic standards on vegetables and the use of food waste to feed animals.
Kath Dalmeny, chief executive of Sustain, said: “We’re campaigning for a Better Food Britain, where we end hunger, feed families well and create sustainable livelihoods for everyone across the food chain.
“Together our Alliance represents millions of people who want to see climate change tackled, food and farming standards championed and waste eliminated. We’ll be examining the political parties’ manifestos and seeing how they measure up.”
Responding to confirmation that a General Election will be held on Thursday 12 December, NFU President Minette Batters said: “Safeguarding Britain’s food producers and our domestic food supply has never been more important.
“That’s why over the coming weeks the NFU will be engaging with candidates from all political parties to ensure they understand the importance of profitable, productive and progressive farm businesses, both now and in the future.”
“We will be looking for any new government to commit to a food-focused agricultural policy that rewards farmers fairly for producing safe, traceable and affordable food for everyone while protecting and enhancing the iconic British countryside.
“We’ll need assurance that the government will keep its promise made last February to establish a Trade and Standards Commission to ensure our high standards of production are not undermined by any future trade policy. And as we laid out in our net-zero report earlier this year, we’ll need a new government to work with us and other stakeholders to enable British farming to meet its net-zero aspiration by 2040.
She concluded: “British farming plays a crucial role in providing the raw ingredients that form the backbone of our largest manufacturing industry, food and drink, which is worth more than £120 billion to the national economy and supports jobs for almost four million people. It’s absolutely vital that candidates standing in this election recognise the enormous contribution that agriculture makes to our nation and back British farming.”