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UK Prime Minister addresses NFU Conference

For the first time since 2008, the Prime Minister addressed NFU Conference. Rishi Sunak opened his keynote speech by paying tribute to President Minette Batters and her 'forceful' representation of farmers during a tumultuous time.

He told farmers at Birmingham's ICC, "I've got your back," as he announced a package of support for rural communities and committed to "every penny" of the £2.4bn farming budget going to agriculture.

He announced that the government will open the largest ever grant offer for farmers in the coming financial year, which is expected to total £427m, including funding for technology and productivity schemes.

The Prime Minister said: "While the importance of farmers will never change – farming is going through its biggest change in a generation. And as farmers do so, this government will be by their side. They have been dealing with soaring global prices in things like fuel and fertilizer. So, we've been working hard to get inflation down – from 11.1% last year to 4% now. And we're increasing payments in our farming schemes by an average of 10%.

"They are also at the forefront of innovation – from gene editing to boost resilience to disease to automation to help harvest crops. And while, thanks to you, we enjoy good quality food all year round, global events – including Russia's invasion of Ukraine – have put food security back at the top of the agenda. We'll never take our food security for granted. We've got a plan to support British farming – and we're going further again today."

Productivity schemes
Around £220m will be injected into the future-focused technology and productivity schemes to ensure farmers can invest in automation. It will also fund energy measures, such as rooftop solar, to safeguard land for food production.

The funding doubles investment in productivity schemes, growing the grant offer from £91m last year to £220m next year to keep up with demand.

In addition, the government will double the Management Payment for SFI, so those with existing agreements will receive up to an extra £1,000 this April, and it will be extended to Countryside Stewardship mid-tier for the first year of agreements starting by March 2025. This means that the 11,000 farmers who have applied for SFI will receive that top-up this spring.

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