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The leaked Labour manifesto - what it has in store for farming

11th May 2017 / By Alistair Driver

A Labour Government would scrap the badger cull, ban neonicotinoids and use reconfigured funding streams to promote ‘cruelty free animal husbandry’, according to its leaked manifesto.

CorbynThe draft manifesto, which has been widely circulated ahead of the final version’s expected launch next week, contains a raft of measures affecting agriculture, which also include expanding the role of the Groceries Code Adjudicator and reinstating a version of the Agricultural Wages board.

The document claims the Conservatives have ‘failed to provide a clear, ambitious or sustainable vision for the future of the farming, food and fishing industries’. It describes the Conservatives’ threatened ‘bonfire of red tape’ as ‘a threat to our environmental protections and to the quality of our lives’ and pledges various measures to tighten legislation in a number of areas affecting farmers.

A Corbyn-led Labour Government would take a softer line on Brexit negotiations, including the possibility of staying in the Single Market and Customs Union. Similarly, on immigration, the document promises to allow current EU workers to remain in the UK and includes a pledge on a seasonal worker scheme.

The manifesto takes a strong line on animal welfare and the environment and promises to use funds under a reconfigured domestic agricultural policy to support sustainable practices. 

Key measures include:

Food and Farming

  • We will expand the role of the Groceries Code Adjudicator to ensure suppliers and consumers get a fair deal
  • We will reconfigure funds for farming and fishing to support smaller traders, local economies, community benefits and sustainable practices.
  • We will allow EU workers employed across farming, fishing and food manufacturing to remain in the UK and reinstate the Seasonal Agricultural Workers scheme.
  • We will introduce a new Agricultural Sector Council to underpin employment standards and wages.

Environment

The document accuses the Conservatives of breaking their promise to be the greenest government ever. It says only a Labour government will prioritise a sustainable, long term future for our farming, fishing and food industries, including guaranteeing the ‘protection and advancement of environmental standards’.

Pledges include:

  • We will champion sustainable farming, food and fishing by investing in and promoting skills, technology, market access and innovation.
  • Labour will introduce a new Clean Air Act to deal with the Tory legacy of illegal air quality.
  • We will establish Blue Belts in the seas and oceans surrounding our island.
  • We will protect our bees by prohibiting neonicotinoids.

Animal welfare

“Labour’s vision is for the UK to lead the world with high animal welfare standards in the wild, in farming and with domestic animals. Our stewardship of the environment needs to be founded on sound principle and based on scientific assessment,” the document states.

Pledges include:

  • We will cease the badger cull which spreads bovine TB
  • We will use reconfigured funding streams to promote cruelty free animal husbandry and consult on ways to ensure better enforcement of agreed standards
  • Labour banned fox hunting, Theresa May opposed it. Only a Labour government will maintain the ban.

Brexit

Labour will adopt a very different approach to Brexit laid out by Prime Minister Theresa May. Key pledges include:

  • We will scrap the Conservatives Brexit White Paper and replace it with fresh negotiating priorities that have a strong emphasis on retaining the benefits of the Single Market and the Customs Union
  • A Labour Government will immediately guarantee existing rights for all EU nationals living in Britain and secure reciprocal rights for UK citizens who have chosen to make their lives in EU countries
  • We will reject ‘no deal’ as a viable option and negotiate transitional arrangements to avoid a cliff-edge for the UK economy
  • We will drop the Conservatives’ Great Repeal Bill, replacing it with an EU Rights and Protections "Bill that will ensure there is no detrimental change to workers’ rights, equality law, consumer rights or environmental protections as a result of Brexit
  • We will make sure that all EU-derived laws - including d environmental protections - are fully protected without qualifications, limitations or sunset clauses.

Small business

The document includes various measures affecting small businesses, including:

  • Reinstate the small business corporation tax rate
  • Introduce a package of reforms to business rates, while reviewing the entire business rates system in the longer run
  • Scrap quarterly reporting for businesses with a turnover of under £83,000.
  • Declare war on late payments, including an Australian system of binding arbitration and fines for persistent late payers for the private sector.

 

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