Joint message from Union Presidents following summit in Belfast.
The four leading agricultural organisations across the UK have repeated calls for UK Government to recognise food security concerns and extend the Energy and Trade Intensive Industry scheme (ETII) to include those sectors of agriculture heavily reliant on energy.
The latest call comes as UK farming union Presidents met in Belfast. Hosted by Ulster Farmers’ Union President David Brown, those attending included Martin Kennedy, President of NFU Scotland; Minette Batters, President of NFU and Aled Jones, President of NFU Cymru. The meeting was also joined by Irish Farmers’ Association President Tim Cullinan.
With the current energy support scheme ending today (31 March), the UK Unions have repeated their demands for energy relief to be extended to agricultural businesses following on from a joint letter written to Secretary of State Grant Shapps MP at the start of March and signed jointly by all four Presidents.
In a joint statement, the four UK Unions said: “For the UK Government not to extend the highest level of energy relief to sectors highly dependent on energy to rear, grow and store food is a failure of UK Government to recognise the deteriorating position on food security.
“We have been crystal clear in pointing out to Government and Ministers that unless the ETII scheme is amended to provide support for primary agricultural production, there could be a reduction in domestic food production which may prolong the ongoing food price inflation for consumers.
“There is a cast iron case that, from April 2023, the ETII scheme should be providing the highest-level energy relief to a number of sectors within primary agricultural production alongside the relief that is being offered to food processing and manufacturing. To offer relief to one without the other is self-defeating if we are to genuinely address consumer concerns over food shortages and empty shelves.
“Many of our farm businesses are reliant on gas and electricity to produce fresh food and they will struggle to absorb the huge hikes in energy prices that they will face from tomorrow (1 April 2023).
“It is within the gift of UK Government to address genuine food security concerns and to review the classification for higher level support. Energy prices are already seriously damaging our ability to produce food and from this weekend, many of our members’ businesses will face an energy cost cliff edge.”