Richard Rankin, H&H Group chief executive, urges action for farmers and rural communities following the general election.

Here in the UK food production is something we are exceptionally good at, both in its quality and in the variety of the food we can put on the supermarket shelves. So, with the Labour party forming our next government by a landslide majority, I’d like to call upon them to pick up this particular political baton out of the long grass and invest in the future of the agricultural sector and the rural economy.

We need to see them prioritising food production in this country, and this investment, believe it or not, can go hand in hand with moving us towards a greener and more environmentally sustainable countryside and landscape.

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An enormous part of our country is still rural, and we need to support our rural communities and protect the current rural way of life, not to prolong a bygone era or hold onto old fashioned romantic notions but to safeguard our essential food security in this country.

We also need to appreciate that farmers do much more than just grow food, they are the custodians of the countryside. The landscape we love looks the way it looks because of farmers, and perhaps people forget that when they go into the supermarkets and choose food that carries the little British flag, they are supporting not just the livelihoods of the farmers who produce it but the countryside in which it is grown.

Labour need to address the existing support system, putting (environmentally sustainable) food production higher on the agenda, at the very least it would help farmers enormously if the payments process could be made less complex. This complexity helps no one at all, except possibly the savvier or those who have the money to pay the professionals to take advantage of the various schemes available.

But what about the people who can’t afford that, and particularly our next generation of food producers?

So many of the next generation I speak to aren’t interested in a career in farming, and I believe that we urgently need to attract young people into agriculture to ensure longevity, innovation, and sustainability in our food production, but so far, most politicians have kept very quiet about this during the campaigning process.

This generation see their parents struggle too much, they see costs soaring and margins eroding to practically nothing, and they see their parents and their farming enterprises taking on more debt. Couple that with trade deals to ship in food that isn’t as good as what we already produce, then what reason or encouragement is there for them to follow their parents into farming.

Fundamentally, we need the Labour to understand the real value of British food and the farmers, the landscape, and the communities who produce it. We should not be looking for the cheapest food we can buy. How can food grown on the other side of the planet, then packed, frozen, and shipped across the seas to this country possibly be economically and environmentally sustainable? And we haven’t even started on the health benefits.

What consumers should be able to find in the supermarket is home-grown produce of the highest consistent quality, badged with a British flag that tells them they are feeding their families on food farmed with the highest standards of quality, environmental responsibility, and animal welfare in the world. Those are standards we can trust, and even if that comes at a slightly higher price, it also gives us unbeatable value for money.

I await with much interest to see what our new Government aims to do to support our farmers, protect the rural economy, and safeguard this stunning landscape which surrounds our cities.