Farmers pleased with Chancellor’s statement

The National Farmers Union (NFU) has welcomed Chancellor George Osborne’s autumn statement, saying it recognises the importance of the farming and food sectors in today’s economy.

NFU president Peter Kendall agreed with the overall speech, pointing out the government’s proposal to cut red tape, improve rural broadband, ease credit for small businesses and encourage youth employment. He said: “We will need to look at the details of the Chancellor’s plans for growth, but I detect some positive announcements, such as a consultation on proposals to allow existing agricultural buildings to be used for other business purposes and acknowledgement of the positive impact of the Farming Regulation Task Force will have, if implemented properly.

“We await with interest the details of the government’s food and drink export action plan in January 2012, the summit in March 2012 aimed at boosting innovation in small agri-food businesses, and the appointment of a food and drink business ambassador.”

However, Kendall was disappointed in the Chancellor’s decision not to review the reduction of the Annual Investment Allowance, due to drop from £100,000 to £25,000 next year, and criticised the government’s focus on urban enterprise zones.  

“I have called on the Treasury repeatedly to review its decision to reduce the Annual Investment Allowance, but it appears again not to have listened,” he said. “As a capital-intensive industry, which will rely on investment in plant and machinery in the coming years to meet the challenge of global food security, this move sends out entirely the wrong message.

“I’m more convinced than ever that farming can, and will, face up to the contribution it can make in stimulating economic recovery and rebalancing the economy. The exact measures needed to meet these challenges are many and complex and it remains to be seen whether the Chancellor’s proposals will provide the right medicine.”

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