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UK agri sector responds to annual budget announcement

In a statement responding to the UK Chancellor's Budget announcement today, NFU President Peter Kendall said government must ensure it enables rural businesses to contribute to its drive for growth.

As always, as we examine the details in the coming days, we will get a clearer idea of how this Budget will help farming become more competitive and play its part in rebalancing the economy and driving growth,” said Kendall.

“Overall, this is a Budget that speaks much about supporting private sector growth across the UK. This is essential, but it is important that the government ensures its focus extends beyond urban and incorporated businesses, and enables rural businesses to contribute to this drive for growth.

“For instance, Local Enterprise Partnerships, which will play an important role in the new enterprise zones, must not want for rural representation, and food production as an industry sector must not be overlooked as new zones are rolled out.

“Some of the Chancellor’s specific announcements are to be welcomed. The cancellation of the fuel duty escalator, accompanied by the 1p cut, will help businesses across the economy, including the food and farming industries that are struggling to absorb rising fuel costs.

“This reversal of the previous administration’s announcement will be good news so long as the pig, poultry and horticulture sectors, which have worked hard to reduce their emissions, can continue to benefit from it. Further proposals to simplify the agreements will be published this summer.

“We are encouraged by the Chancellor’s support for the prioritisation of growth and the presumption in favour of sustainable development in planning decisions. It is now vital that this is backed by an assurance that strategically vital industries, such as food production, will also be recognised in planning priorities.”

Welcoming the Budget statement, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said: “This is a budget for growth.  It is a budget that wants to move beyond economic rescue, to economic reform, greater stability, and jobs.

“It is a budget that sets out a simple, efficient and cost-effective framework to provide support for our rural communities, help ease pressure on our precious resources across the country, and deliver on our environmental objectives.  Later this year, our Natural Environment White Paper will set out further how economic growth and protecting the environment can be linked.

“These  measures will not only help get Britain back on track, and help us to deliver our environmental priorities, but they warmly embrace the role of civil society in getting growth underway.”

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