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UK spending review: Initial NFU response

The NFU has responded to the UK Spending Review announcement by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne.

NFU President Peter Kendall has said that more detail is needed before the full extent of the coalition’s planned spending cuts, and their impact on the ability of farmers to run efficient and profitable businesses, can be assessed.

Kendall said: “The truth is that details are currently very thin on the ground. Defra has announced spending cuts of £700m over four years, yet it is far from clear where exactly the axe will fall. Defra has taken one of the biggest hits in Whitehall, in terms of the proportion of its budget that will be cut. At 8% a year this amounts to almost 30% by 2015. Over the coming days we hope that more details will emerge at which point we will know whether the department has listened to our argument that ministers must avoid cuts where they would damage the long term competitive prospects of British farming.

“There were a number of aspects of the chancellor’s announcement that appear positive. In particular, having written to the chancellor earlier this month highlighting the importance a robust science base for productive agriculture, I was pleased to hear his commitment to protect the Department for Business Innovation and Skills’ science budget.

“However, as with most of (the) announcement, we really need more detail before we can be sure the research projects that benefit farmers on the ground will be supported, and to understand the extent to which inflation means a real-term reduction in the science budget.”

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