Liz Truss vows to free farmers of red tape with sweeping plans to feed Britain

Liz Truss today vows to ‘unleash’ British farming to shore up food security with a pledge to slash red tape and extend a seasonal workers scheme.

Amid warnings that the Government is failing to take feeding the country seriously, the Tory leadership frontrunner promises to make British farmers more competitive.

Miss Truss, a former environment secretary, said she wants to free farmers to grow more sustainable and high-quality British food. Meeting farmers in the South West today, she will say that Brexit has given the UK a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity to unleash the sector.

The former environment secretary said she wants to free farmers to grow more sustainable and high-quality British food

She will pledge to remove onerous EU regulations and red tape which hold farmers back – such as restrictions on the use of drones which can be used for targeted fertilising.

Her government would also review poultry, livestock and dairy, horticulture and animal health regulations to simplify processes and ensure sector resilience and adaptability.

And she would extend the seasonal workers visa scheme – which is due to expire in 2024 – to give farmers certainty that they can continue to use foreign labour.

A source said Miss Truss would work on designing a new scheme with the farming industry.

Miss Truss said last night: ‘The pandemic and cost of living crisis have shown it is more vital than ever for us to ensure we have a high- quality and affordable supply of British food.

‘As a former Defra Secretary of State, I understand the challenges faced by farmers and they can trust me to deliver the changes they need. I will cut the red tape that is holding them back and hitting them in their pocket.’

Former NFU president Meurig Raymond last night hailed Miss Truss’s vision for the farming sector.

He said: ‘When I was NFU president between 2014 and 2018 I worked closely with Liz for two years on the big issues facing UK agriculture. I have seen at first hand her drive, determination and ability to deliver on her promises.

‘I share her vision of a competitive, profitable and sustainable farming sector underpinned by investment in the latest technology and innovation, and a proportionate and flexible approach to regulation.’ Over the weekend, Rishi Sunak pledged to ‘drive forward the most significant reforms to farming in half a century’ and ‘ensure that we are supporting our farmers to boost production’.

Miss Truss’s rival for the Tory crown said he would run a nationwide advertising campaign to encourage shoppers to ‘buy local’ and hold an annual ‘food security summit’ in Downing Street.

It came as National Farmers’ Union president Minette Batters warned that too little attention was being paid to food production in the UK, and called for a special hustings for contenders to discuss food security.

A source said Miss Truss would work on designing a new scheme with the farming industry

A source said Miss Truss would work on designing a new scheme with the farming industry

Writing in The Mail on Sunday, she said: ‘To date we’ve had absolutely no plan or commitment from the Government that Britain will carry on its role as a food-producing nation.

‘Quite often, the farmers’ view is that our role as food producers is being made more difficult, rather than less, that food is viewed as just an unfortunate by-product of delivering for the environment. Our ancestors who have lived through food shortages would be turning in their graves. We should all be concerned about this abject failure by Government to take seriously the pressing problem of feeding our nation.’

Soaring global food prices are leaving many families struggling to afford shopping. Mrs Batters said it was astonishing that no government has yet delivered ‘a clear plan to ensure we maintain even the volumes of food we are currently producing’. She said the problems of Ukraine, a major wheat producer, in exporting its crops due to the war with Russia were causing prices to spiral.

Changing weather patterns are ‘also making it difficult to say with any certainty what harvests the world over are going to look like each year’, she added.

‘The prospect of “food wars” should be spurring the world’s governments into action.

‘There is a saying that we are only three meals away from anarchy – in other words, riots will break out if people miss three meals in a row.

National Farmers’ Union president Minette Batters warned that too little attention was being paid to food production in the UK

National Farmers’ Union president Minette Batters warned that too little attention was being paid to food production in the UK

‘Multiply that country by country and you start to get a sense of the upheaval that could result from a shortage of food.

‘So what is our Government doing to try to solve the problem? Not enough. We should all be deeply frustrated that there has been almost no attention paid to food production here at home.’

Mrs Batters said Britain has the ‘prime conditions to produce food’, adding: ‘What we have had are plans to take more farmland to plant trees and provide homes for beavers.

‘We’ve had plans for how we will build housing on farmland in our Green Belt. We’re building solar farms at pace and farmers understandably opt for them in order to reduce their exposure to the economic risks of food production.

‘But why on earth do we not take food security as seriously as energy security?’ Britain relies on the rest of the world for 40 per cent of its food, she said.

‘But when the NFU asked the Government to give a commitment that we would maintain that figure of 60 per cent self-sufficiency, it didn’t take the opportunity.

‘The next Prime Minister has a chance to put this right.’

Last night neither Miss Truss’s nor Mr Sunak’s campaign teams committed to taking part in any proposed rural hustings.

Her family has not followed her on her political journey to the Right. In an interview with the Sunday Times yesterday, she said: ‘I think my mum will [vote for me], I’m not sure about my dad.’ Her father, a mathematics professor, has struggled to understand the change in her politics.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk

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