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Newark MP Robert Jenrick welcomes £427 million grant package for farmers announced by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at National Farmers Union Conference in Birmingham

Newark MP Robert Jenrick has welcomed new grants for farmers, in the largest package ever offered by the government.

At the National Farmers Union Conference in Birmingham yesterday (February 20), the Prime Minister and the environment secretary announced a range of measures to boost productivity and resilience in agriculture.

It included a grant package totalling £427million.

Newark MP Robert Jenrick.
Newark MP Robert Jenrick.

In response to the announcement, Mr Jenrick said: "I am proud to represent a constituency with such a strong farming community that produces great food and drink. [Yesterday’s] government announcement of a major support package for farmers underscores our commitment to championing the countryside and safeguarding British farming for the next generation. In Newark alone, more than £10 million has been invested Into farming since April 1, 2023.

"This government has delivered better targeted funding for farmers and protected our best farmland – but there is more that can be done. Recognising the need for further action, I am glad to see this announcement of our largest ever package of competitions and grants for farmers worth £427 million, as well as a UK-wide Food Security Index, new rules to make sure farmers always get fair prices for their products and cuts to planning red tape to help farmers grow their business.

"I am looking forward to seeing how these measures help to deliver a resilient and profitable farming sector, renowned for producing some of the best food globally, especially within the Newark constituency.

"Supporting farmers extends beyond financial incentives. We must continue to tackle rural crime and recognise the importance of a safe, secure environment for the farming community's prosperity. During my tenure as local government secretary, I spearheaded initiatives granting police additional powers to tackle illegal encampments, thereby ensuring our rural areas remain secure and welcoming. I will continue to advocate for more measures to help support local farmers. A thriving farming sector is not just vital for our economy; it's crucial for our environment as well."

The grant package is set to invest £220 million in productivity and innovation in farming, £116 million in slurry infrastructure, and £91million to improving the health and welfare of farmed animals.

Further funding is to be provided to assist farms in the government’s Sustainable Farming Incentive and Countryside Stewardship schemes.

Environment secretary Steve Barclay said: “For generations, farmers have worked day in, day out to put food on our tables and are custodians of our beautiful British countryside. This is why we committed £2.4 billion to support British farming and have invested into the sector to boost agricultural productivity and resilience, increase food security and deliver for the environment, delivering on our plan.

“This includes the largest ever package of competitions and grants to foster technology and innovation, bolstered by our increasingly popular farming schemes that support all types and size of farm businesses to produce food sustainably.”

The Prime Minister also announced a new annual UK-wide Food Security Index to monitor levels of food security, annual Farm to Fork summits, and a £15 million fund to help tackle food waste by enabling farmers to redistribute surplus food that cannot be used commercially at the farm gate.

Farming Minister Mark Spencer added: “Maintaining food security and boosting sustainable food production is vital as we see the impacts of more extreme weather and global events, and [ysterday’s] announcements provide further support for farmers to deliver this while also protecting the environment.

“Almost half of farmers across the country are already signed up to our farming schemes and we continue to work closely with farmers to tweak and improve our offer so as many farmers as possible are encouraged to get involved.”

Further measures announced include making up to £500,000 available to deliver projects that support mental health in the farming sector; and expanding permitted development rights to help farm businesses diversify and run profitable businesses, such as farm shops and sports venues.

Funding will also be provided to Internal Drainage Boards that protect agricultural land and rural communities from flooding, helping areas recover from recent flooding events and modernising infrastructure to lower costs for farmers and increase their resilience to climate change.

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