Farming policy calls welcomed by grain firm as nation prepares for General Election vote

Simon Wilcox (Manager UK Farm Grain Origination at Cefetra Grain)

AS THE country prepares to vote in the July 4th General Election, Simon Wilcox, Manager, UK Farm Grain Origination at agricultural market leader Cefetra Grain, has commented on how farming has been firmly on the political agenda during the campaign.

He said: “With the days counting down until the nation goes to the polls in the 2024 General Election, the farming industry has been playing its part in raising key issues with the main political parties as they campaign for votes.

“As a UK and Ireland pioneering supply chain manager for grains and animal feed raw materials, Cefetra is non-political and will await the outcome as voters decide our future direction.”

With key locations across the UK and significant involvement in importing and exporting, there are a host of policy decisions ahead which will impact the business.

Cefetra Grain has seven regional offices across England and Scotland, while Cefetra Ltd has an annual turnover of over £1.5bn and supplies customers in the animal nutrition, food and drink industries, handling circa 5million tonnes per annum. 

Citing the agri-food sector’s £127billion contribution to the UK economy (Gross Value Added) in 2021 and the employment of close to 500,000 people, the National Farmers’ Union has set out its manifesto.

Their “key asks” include a commitment to a UK agricultural budget that underpins sustainable domestic food production, delivers for the environment and supports all land tenures along with the development of core production standards that apply to all agri-food imports.

The NFU is also calling for the establishment of a new food security index and target, including a statutory duty to monitor and report on annual domestic food production levels, as well as a smooth and seamless transition to new environmental schemes open to all farmers and growers, plus a commitment to source 50% of food into the public sector from British farms.

Meanwhile, the Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC) wants the next UK Government to deliver on the Powering Productivity for Sustainable UK Food Security report recommendation, set out last November, of an independent UK Food Security Committee.

The AIC also wants to see improved trade from addressing policy divergence between the UK and EU as well as within the UK home nations, plus standardised sustainability metrics, ensuring that UK agriculture is not disadvantaged.

Wilcox conmmented: “Many farmers will welcome all of these approaches, which could go a long way to helping our industry recover from the shocks of the pandemic, the cost of living crisis, the impact of the conflict in Ukraine and higher levels of inflation.

Even if farming colleagues take a different view on any of these individual policy requests, it has been heartening to see leading organisations give direction on the way forward.

Farmers have, perhaps, a well-earned reputation for being cynical about politicians in general but rural voters will have a key role to play in July.

The Conservatives may fear people in countryside constituencies turning away from them or even staying away from the ballot box, while Labour, the Liberal Democrats and all the opposition parties will want to show that they can have a positive impact upon farming communities, all impacting upon their ambitions in Westminster.

Cefetra Grain is looking to the future, regardless of which party holds power from July 5 onwards, having a range of new initiatives under way including our recently announced appointment as grain marketing partner for Crop Marketing Groups Ltd (CMG) co-operative, made up of over 300 members across 10 regional groups. 

It has been heartening to see leading farming organisations raise the key issues that matter to businesses like ours and so many colleagues across the full range of agricultural sectors.

We will await the outcome of the General Election and hope those in power work with farming to shape a stronger future for us all.”

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