FARMING is a major source of employment and an important part of community life for many in the Forest of Dean. The Government and I want to do all we can to support this vital sector and that is why, last week, the Prime Minister announced a range of measures to boost its productivity and resilience, including the largest-ever grant offer for farmers in the coming financial year, expected to total £427 million.

This includes doubling investment in productivity schemes, bolstering schemes such as the Improving Farming Productivity grant, which provides support for farmers to invest in automation and robotics, as well as solar installations to build on-farm energy security.

The Prime Minister also announced a new annual UK-wide Food Security Index to capture and present the data needed to monitor levels of food security, that the Farm to Fork Summit will be held annually, 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.

This comes as new regulations will be laid in Parliament to ensure fair and transparent contracts for dairy farmers, meaning clearer pricing terms; changes to contracts can’t be imposed on farmers without their agreement; and providing more straightforward ways for farmers to raise concerns about their contracts. Alongside this, a review is also set to launch to improve fairness in the poultry supply chain.

The Government also confirmed farmers will benefit from the improved Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) from July this year. The improved offer includes a 10% increase in the average value of agreements in SFI and Countryside Stewardship (CS); a streamlined single application. process; and around 50 new actions that farmers can get paid for.

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 additionally 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.

Through this work the Government will continue to champion our farmers who proudly produce some of the best quality food in the world, keeping us fed while stewarding our beautiful countryside.

Contact me: [email protected] | | House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA | @Mark_J_Harper |