Politicians and farmers must mix

This morning, Nigel Farage will be sworn in as the next Prime Minister and present a live broadcast from outside 10 Downing Street.

I bet that got your attention! Hopefully it will be the only such headline you will read today.

July 4 – Independence Day in the USA and for us the end of six boring weeks of error-strewn election campaigns.

For most people, our trust in politicians of all parties and the Conservatives in particular is at an all-time low. Promises and promises presented in manifestos are just that and for the most part never seem to materialize. The perception is that you can’t believe a word they say.

I think the last 14 years of Conservative government, with all the scandals and mismanagement, has exacerbated this.

We have expected a Labor victory but were not quite sure who would come second and third, or even by what majority they would win.

My hope is that there will be unanimity and for that, ideally, the results should show a close finish, if not a hung parliament.

Governments with huge majorities, as demonstrated by Boris Johnson’s victory, do not make good decisions. We need a strong opposition to keep the more extreme politics in check. So it is with great trepidation that I look at the results today.

Assuming Labor are the victors with a sufficient mandate to govern, then a quick look through their manifesto promises on agriculture and the environment is in order.

Of the three main parties, they are the only ones that do not commit to a budget figure for agriculture and the environment. They have stated that they will continue with the current environmental protection system.

Ahead of the election, National Farmers Union president Tom Bradshaw stated that “a budget of £5.5 billion (currently £3.7 billion) is necessary to support food production and deliver for the environment”.

A 2023 report commissioned by the RSPB, the Wildlife Trusts and the National Trust said the government needs to invest £4.4bn a year in nature and climate-friendly farming to meet environmental targets.

Agriculture is a long-term business, as is protecting the environment, so the government must prioritize a budget for its term.

If we look at the hash that the current Labor government in Wales has made in dealing with agricultural and environmental policy, we have to hope that lessons have been learned. Otherwise, our farmers will also be out protesting with their tractors.

Other pledges include committing to ensure that all government institutions such as the NHS, prisons and the military use at least 50 per cent of UK-sourced food. On bovine TB, they want to move away from badger culling to a vaccination policy, claiming they will follow the science. This is disputed by experts in this field where culling has shown significant results and should continue alongside other measures.

Unlike the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives, little is promised under food security other than that it is part of national security.

Labor promises that future trade deals with other countries will not pose a threat to British farmers in terms of unfair competition. They need to look at our current trade deal with the EU and then sort out the broken Australian and New Zealand deals that the Conservatives pushed through.

Farmers and landowner representatives, such as the NFU and the Land and Landowners’ Association, will need to build relationships with many new members of the Riksdag as so many have retired or lost their seats.

Meanwhile, in the real world, we are fast approaching the harvest of our grains and oil crops.

In the coming months you need to be aware of large machinery moving on the roads and fields of our countryside. Be extra careful when meeting them and give large machines the space they need.

It’s always a busy time for farmers as they replenish empty stores and reap the results of a year’s worth of blood, sweat and tears.

It’s my favorite time of the farming calendar, because for the past 40 years I’ve seen it all from a combine. Now, unfortunately, I will only be a spectator, something I am struggling to come to terms with.

The upside is no long days, dust and lack of sleep, but I will still miss it.

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