UK General Election: NFFN calls for immediate action to improve rural economy and help nature-friendly farmers

United Kingdom
Policy & Views

Following last Thursday’s general election, the Nature Friendly Farming Network (NFFN) says the new government can make an instant difference to the lives of those farming in a way that benefits the environment while producing food.

Sir Keir Starmer became the UK’s new prime minister as Labour swept the Conservatives from power in an electoral landslide when the country went to the polls on Thursday. Soon after, Steve Reed was selected as Labour’s secretary of state for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

We welcome the new Government and the new arrivals at Defra for the next five years. This is an absolutely critical time, and the Government needs to step up and deliver by halting nature’s decline and assisting its recovery, mitigating the impact of the climate crisis and building a resilient food system.

Martin Lines, NFFN CEO

We are looking forward to engaging with the new Government, and we now need to see an immediate, revitalised, and ambitious direction for farming, which prioritises nature and biodiversity as well as food production.

How the country’s new leaders can hit the ground running when it comes to supporting farmers

We believe the Government can instantly demonstrate its ambition by committing to the rollout of at least 3,000 Higher Tier agreements per year, helping those farmers who are well-placed to do most for the environment and climate and who are often in economically vulnerable parts of the country. 

The Government should also help farmers transition away from using chemical inputs by publishing a long-awaited National Action Plan on pesticides and setting out how farmers can help achieve its key goal of improving water quality, including through the use of land management schemes, setting a fit-for-purpose farming baseline, and investing in a financial programme to help farmers improve compliance rates with legal standards.

We are calling on the country's new leaders to recognise that nature and food production are two sides of the same coin and that investing in farming methods that help adapt to a rapidly warming climate, free farmers from input dependency, and support the recovery of watercourses is vital to long-term food security.

The time is now

The new Government is taking office at a time of immense challenges for farmers, who are facing sky-high input prices, extreme and volatile weather conditions and a ruthless marketplace. This means it has never been more urgent for the Government to set out a clear and coherent plan for farming, helping the sector build resilience to current and future challenges.

We look forward to meeting the new Government and working with them to find practical and speedy solutions to these issues. For the farming community to have confidence in its new government, the Labour leadership must present its food and farming plans without delay.

Martin Lines, NFFN CEO

Read our manifesto

During the general election campaign, we produced a manifesto with seven key asks of the new Government. These included a significant increase in the agriculture budget, reform of supply chains, a commitment to ensuring trade deals maintain a level playing field for UK farmers, and agri-environment schemes that support all farmers and make nature-friendly farming the obvious and straightforward approach to choose.