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Back British Farming Day

Volume 737: debated on Wednesday 13 September 2023

British farmers play a crucial role in driving economic growth, supporting national food security, and achieving our ambitious net zero goals. On Back British Farming Day, the Government are proud to celebrate our British farmers and growers who work tirelessly to produce world-renowned, high-quality produce all year round.

British food is the best in the world and this Government want to do all they can to support hard-working British farmers to produce it. We are backing industry-led action that helps customers to “buy British” when they shop online and we are supporting the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board’s We Eat Balanced campaign, which endorses the excellent taste and quality of home-grown meat and dairy products.

Across Government, we are taking concrete actions to back British farming and strengthen our domestic food production. Today, the Government are setting out further support for British farmers and encouraging more people to buy high-quality British produce. These latest measures form part of the £3.1 billion being invested into the UK farming sector every year and will help meet our commitment to continue to produce at least 60% of the food we consume here in the UK. By improving farm productivity, they will also provide a further boost to the economy, with the sector contributing £127 billion to the UK’s economic prosperity annually.

Today we are building on the significant progress made with a new package of measures designed to cut red tape, support our farmers to invest in new technologies and build energy resilience, and boost our vitally important abattoir network. Today the Government are announcing:

The Government will support British food, which is the best in the world. That is why we are backing industry-led action to signpost customers to “buy British” when they shop online. We are also proud to support AHDB’s campaign, which launched on 8 September, and aims to highlight the exceptional taste and quality of our home-grown meat and dairy produce, and its role in a nutritionally balanced and sustainable diet. We are today confirming that farmers producing sustainable British food under our environmental land management schemes will be able to use them to help meet public procurement standards, benefiting our British farmers and allowing the public sector to benefit from more excellent British food.

The Government will bring forward the planned payment schedules for all those who join the sustainable farming incentive (SFI). The new and improved sustainable farming incentive 2023 – which has 23 actions on offer for farmers—is currently accepting expressions of interest and will start accepting applications from 18 September. Today, in recognition of the challenges faced with inflation and rising input costs, we are confirming that farmers who have a live sustainable farming incentive 2023 agreement before the end of the year, will receive an accelerated payment in the first month of their agreement, helping with cashflow and ensuring SFI works for farm businesses.

Our food and drink exports bring £24 billion to the British economy, and we have had great success stories in recent years including securing access for British lamb to the US. Our network of agri-food attachés play an important role in breaking down barriers to trade and opening up new trading markets. Following our commitment at the Farm to Fork Summit, we have launched a recruitment drive to appoint an additional five agri-food attachés to boost the UK’s agri-food exports, bringing the total number of dedicated UK agri-food attachés to 16. The new attachés will cover northern Europe, southern Europe, Australia/New Zealand, South Korea and Africa.

The Government will help farmers to reduce their carbon footprint and improve their energy resilience and productivity. As well as producing food for our tables, farmers and land managers play a crucial role in helping the UK achieve our ambitious net zero plans. Through our farming investment fund, we are helping farmers invest in climate-smart technologies that enhance productivity and reduce carbon emissions.

Today, we are pleased to announce an additional £15 million for farmers to invest in solar equipment, opening later this year, backing their energy security and cutting costs in the long term. This funding complements the £10 million already available for cattle farmers under the animal health and welfare infrastructure grant, which included a solar offer alongside grants to improve calf housing.

We are also unveiling plans to allocate an additional £15 million to farmers and growers and in England to fund the purchase of innovative robotic and automated equipment. By supporting our famers to invest in modern farming techniques, innovation, and infrastructure, we not only enhance the productivity of the sector, but strengthen our competitiveness in global markets. The second round of our successful improving farm productivity grant, part of the farming investment fund, will launch later in 2023.

The Government want more abattoirs around the country. That is good for farmers and for animal welfare. We are identifying opportunities to remove unnecessary burdens while maintaining our animal welfare standards. We have listened to the concerns of smaller abattoir owners and are identifying opportunities to cut unnecessary burdens, making it easier for them to operate and support farmers in reaching local and international markets while maintaining our world-leading standards.

The Government recognise that a thriving livestock sector depends on a sustainable abattoir network. We are going to support small abattoirs—financially and by cutting red tape. The £4 million smaller abattoirs fund will launch in Q4 2023, to support abattoirs to improve productivity, enhance animal health and welfare, add value to primary products, and encourage innovation and investment in new technologies.

I encourage you to champion our schemes with farmers in your area. Our schemes are about supporting resilient and sustainable farm businesses, preserving and improving the countryside that we have stewarded for generations and putting food on the plates of people across the nation.