There has been some coverage of calls by the National Farmers Union (NFU) for more government support for farmers to safeguard the nation’s food supplies.
We understand that farmers are facing increasing costs as a result of the impacts of the conflict in Ukraine and global economic shocks including the spike in oil and gas prices, and have announced a range of measures throughout the course of the year to help mitigate these challenges and support industry.
The UK’s food supply chain remains resilient, with supply from diverse sources guaranteeing a high level of food security.
A Government spokesperson said:
The UK has a large and highly resilient food supply chain. Our high degree of food security is built on supply from diverse sources; strong domestic production as well as imports through stable trade routes.The government is in regular contact with the food and farming industries to ensure they are well prepared for a range of scenarios, and we continue to take all the necessary steps to ensure people across the country have the food they need.
To support the food and farming industry in the face of these pressures, the government has:
- Brought forward 50% of direct payments earlier this year to help farmers with cashflow
- Delayed proposed changes in the use of urea fertiliser back in March to help farmers manage costs and give them more time to adapt
- Brought forward New slurry storage grants which will help farmers reduce their reliance on artificial fertilisers
- Continued progress of the roll out of the Sustainable Farming Incentive scheme, and over 4000 applications have now been started. This pays farmers for actions, including improving soil health, which will reduce dependence on manufactured fertilisers which are linked to gas prices
- Removed the 25% tariff on US maize imports, which are a key ingredient for animal feed
- Brought in The Energy Bill Relief scheme, meaning businesses will be paying less than half of predicted wholesale energy costs this winter
- Cut fuel duty for petrol and diesel by 5p per litre across the UK until March 2023
- Reduced employer national insurance by increasing the Employment Allowance
- Put the brakes on bill increases by freezing the business rates multiplier - worth £9.3 billion over the next five years.
- Relaxed marketing rules so that farmers who breed turkeys, geese or ducks for their meat have the option to slaughter their flocks early and freeze these products
- Brought in Swifter compensation payments to farmers affected by avian influenza
- And earlier this year we confirmed the release of an extra 10,000 visas under the Seasonal Worker Visa Route, with 2,000 of these going to the poultry sector, meaning in total 40,000 visas are available for seasonal workers in 2022 to help ensure businesses have the workforce they need
The Food and Farming Minister met representatives from the UK egg sector on 6 December to discuss the challenges that the industry is currently facing. This is part of our regular and close engagement with the sector.