Don’t forget farming sector after 7 May, says UK200Group expert

Political parties must live up to their promises and maintain their pre-election focus on the farming sector, whatever the outcome of 7 May, says a specialist at the UK200Group of independent chartered accountancy and lawyer firms.

John Thame who leads the Agriculture and Property team at chartered accountants Ellacotts LLP, in Banbury, London and Wellingborough, and who chairs the UK200Group’s agriculture special interest group, welcomed the high profile given to agriculture in party manifestos ahead of the poll.

The Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, Green Party and UKIP have all highlighted the importance of the sector and Labour published a standalone rural manifesto, alongside its main document.

John said: “There’s a common thread running through the manifestos of a commitment to growing more, buying more and selling more British-produced food, which, while positive, is very much what you would expect the parties to say.

“The Groceries Code Adjudicator also comes in for several mentions as a force to achieve a fairer deal for farmers from the supermarkets, with Labour saying they want to expand its role and powers, the Conservatives that they will ‘champion’ its work and the Lib Dems promising continued support for its work.

“Meanwhile, there is talk of Common Agricultural Policy reform but the vastly more significant issue of the UK’s future in Europe is a shadow that hangs over the farming sector. Farmers are used to taking a long-term view but uncertainty over our place in the EU needs to be resolved as quickly as possible.

“The reality is that manifestos are more about general commitments to woo voters rather than specifics. Whichever party or parties take control after 7 May, farmers and the wider rural community will be looking for detailed policy that turns promises into reality and makes a real difference to their lives and finances.”

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