Defra cuts must not derail food and farming strategy or payments, NFU warns

Cuts to Defra's budget must not impact on its responsibilities in driving the government's food and farming strategy, or on its payment functions, NFU President Meurig Raymond has warned.

Image: HW
Image: HW

Defra is one of four government departments that have provisionally agreed to cut spending by an average of 30 per cent over the next four years under Chancellor George Osborne's planned public spending cuts.

"Our priority is for farming businesses to be productive and profitable and we are concerned that cuts of up to 30 per cent could damage front line delivery services that underpin this aim," Raymond said.

"That is why we believe that Defra should first seek savings in back-office functions rather than reducing spending on areas that are key to our members, such as animal health, flood protection and a fully functioning Rural Payments system."

He added: "We will now be looking to meet with Ministers and officials as soon as possible to understand how this announcement will impact farmers and growers."

In anticipation of the cuts, Defra secretary Liz Truss claimed last month that "there are ways that we can make savings as a department" including through better use of technology, and by agencies working more closely together.

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