Election manifestos – How will farmers fare under each party’s plans?

Election manifestos – How will farmers fare under each party’s plans?

As one of the country’s oldest and proudest industries, farming continues to be a major talking point in the world of politics, with the upcoming General Election proving to be no exception.

In this instalment of our manifesto comparison series, Thrings Partner Russell Reeves takes a look at some of the pledges being made that would impact the world of agriculture:


  • Support solar in “the right places” and not on the best agricultural land.
  • Continue to ringfence agricultural funding so it is passed directly on to farming and rural communities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • Reform the planning system to deliver fast track permissions for the building of infrastructure on farms.
  • Support the agricultural sector with the labour it needs to maintain food security, while moving away from the reliance on seasonal migrant labour with a five-year visa tapered scheme
  • Improve public sector procurement so that at least 50% of food expenditure is spent on food produced locally or to higher environmental production standards.


  • Grants of an additional £3billion annually will be made available to landowners and farmers by the middle of the next parliament to support returning land to nature, with generous per hectare payments.
  • Encourage a move to mixed farming along with a reduction in meat and dairy production and implement new horticulture support for fruit and vegetable production.
  • Link farm payments to a reduction in the use of pesticides and other agro-chemicals.
  • Putting farmers, including smaller and family farms, back in the room so they are part of developing new farming policy, including a new Fairer Farming Charter.
  • "Push for the highest animal protection standards and to update the Animal Welfare Act 2006, including with the creation of a create a new Commission on Animal Protection".


  • Introduce a land-use framework and make environment land management schemes work for farmers and nature.
  • Set a target for half of all food purchased across the public sector to be locally produced or certified to higher environmental standards.

Lib Dems

  • Accelerate the rollout of the new Environmental Land Management schemes, properly funding it with an extra £1billion a year to support profitable, sustainable and nature-friendly farming.
  • Give Britain’s farmers the ability to trade with our European neighbours with minimal need for checks by negotiating comprehensive veterinary and plant health agreements.
  • Support farmers “properly” in restoring woodland, peatland and waterways, creating new natural flood protections and managing land to encourage species recovery and carbon storage, while producing food for the table.
  • Introduce a range of other ‘public money for public goods’ programmes, such as nature recovery, planting trees and protecting wildlife, contingent on farmers and land managers opting into an Environmental Land Management scheme.
  • Ensuring farmers receive proper, independent advice about how to transition to new environmental farm payments schemes, with proper funding for advice services.


  • Increase the Farming Budget to £3billion.
  • Scrap Climate-Related Farming Subsidies and replace them with direct payments, using productive land for farming, not solar farms or rewilding.
  • Protect Country Sports.
  • Target 70% to ensure food security with taxpayer funded organisations needing to source 75% of their food from the UK.
  • Cut red tape from HMRC and the British Cattle Movement Service.

Russell Reeves, Partner in the Thrings Agriculture team and Head of Agriculture Litigation, said: “Ensuring the future of our farmers and their businesses needs to be a priority for the next government and it is interesting to see how the various political parties are seeking to achieve this by quite different routes.

“Farmers and landowners will no doubt see the majority of the pledges in a positive light, with promises for increased funding and targets on local produce procurement. It will also be important for them to ensure they deliver on those points whilst striking the balance with the promises to deliver on environmental initiatives littered across the manifestos.

“Labour’s relatively few references in their manifesto to farming will no doubt raise eyebrows as they continue to lead in the polls but in reality, these pledges are just that, pledges. The devil will be in the detail as to how the successful party or parties deliver their promises and it is important they are held to account to ensure they are implementing what they promise the sector.

“As a member of the NFU’s legal panel, Thrings is pleased to see the NFU having published their own manifesto which discussed the matters of greatest importance to their members and highlights the need to balance the drive for productivity and competitiveness with delivering for the environment and underpinning stability. We look forward to continuing our work with the NFU to support its members and their priorities.”

Thrings’ Agriculture team is one of the largest of its kind in the UK with decades of experience in successfully supporting its farming and landowner clients to achieve their aims and the potential for their business. Its lawyers are ranked in the highest tier by both the prestigious Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners directories and have been chosen by the NFU to act for its members in more countries than any other firm.

Find out more about how our lawyers can support farmers, food producers and rural communities on our Information for Farmers page.

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