The Conservatives have promised to introduce a 25-year plan to ‘champion farmers and food producers’ and produce more British food if they win the General Election in May.
In its election manifesto, unveiled by Prime Minister David Cameron in Swindon on Tuesday, the Party outlined various new policies, including a single Farm Inspection Task Force to reduce duplication in inspections.
“We will liberate farmers from red tape by coordinating all visits through a single Farm Inspection Taskforce, which will involve farmers themselves and use data from existing industry schemes, such as Red Tractor,” the manifesto said.
The 25-year plan to’ grow more, buy more and sell more British food’ will include the establishment of a Great British Food Unit to help trademark and promote local foods around the world and in the UK.
The Conservatives would also guarantee that all central government departments purchase food to British standards of production by the end of the Parliament.
The manifesto reiterated the Party’s commitment to implementing the Government’s 25-year strategy to eradicate bovine TB, which includes culling badgers where disease is rife – a policy that puts it starkly at odds with Labour.
There is a commitment to push for further reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, with EU funding to be focused more on jobs and growth. One of the highest profile pledges is an in-out referendum on UK membership of the EU in 2017, having negotiated more powers for UK from Europe, a policy which could have profound implications for farmers.
There are also commitments to roll out superfast broadband and improve mobile phone coverage.
Other key policies included in the manifesto, some of which have already been announced, include:
Extend the Natural Capital Committee to at least the end of the next Parliament and work with it to develop a 25 Year Plan to restore the UK’s biodiversity
Invest £790 million extending superfast broadband to rural areas to provide coverage to 95 per cent of the UK by the end of 2017
Hold mobile operators to the legally binding target of 90 per cent coverage of the UK landmass for voice and SMS coverage by 2017
End any new public subsidy for onshore wind farms and change the law so that local people have the final say on wind farm applications