Farmers call for support ahead of General Election

Crowds at the Bath and West showground in Shepton Mallet
The Royal Bath and West Show attracts thousands of visitors over the three day event [BBC]

Farming leaders have called for all politicians to recognise the importance of home-grown produce ahead of the General Election.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) addressed officials at the three-day Royal Bath and West Show in Shepton Mallet, Somerset, to ensure family farms are being supported in the wake of relentless wet weather.

The NFU provided solutions that political parties can adopt to help safeguard homegrown food production, including proactively mitigating flood risks.

Former president of the union, Minette Batters, said: "There's a lot to play for and whatever happens after this election, whoever has the keys to DEFRA, I hope they will invigorate it."

Minette Batters standing outside a stand at the Bath and West Show in Shepton Mallet
Ms Minette says "there's so much at stake" with this General Election [BBC]

The Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) are responsible for protecting the environment and supporting our food, farming and fishing industries.

Farmers are now facing weeks of uncertainty after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak declared a General Election on 4 July.

The potential for changes in policy direction could put the fate of UK farming in the balance.

"It feels like a lot of it is up in the air," said Ms Batters, who now works as a farmer in Wiltshire.

"What we've always pushed for at the NFU is a long-term meaningful strategy for farming, food production and nature to be treated as one and the same thing.

"With such a short time frame and so much going on, I'm certainly not hearing much about food production, or the countryside really, from any party at the moment," she added.

Liz Webster standing in a barn full of cattle
Ms Webster says the Government need to "back farmers" [BBC]

Liz Webster is a Wiltshire beef farmer and founder of Save British Farming, a campaign group who protest against any trade deals which "fail to protect" British animal welfare and environmental standards.

She believes the key to sustainable food production is investment in cultivation and a focus on high-quality produce.

"We need a government that understands that the best way to bring inflation and the cost of living down, is to ensure that we've got a food plan," Ms Webster said.

"At the moment, the emphasis is on the environment for farmers, and we need to switch it back to food production.

"That will mean that our British people have got access to high-quality food at affordable prices."

A wet and muddy flooded field with water in puddles
Farmers in the West have experienced the wettest February on record since 1836 [BBC]

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