Sunak announces extra funding at NFU Conference

Apr 16, 2024

Prime Minster Rishi Sunak mounted a charm offensive at this year’s NFU Conference, telling farmers he was determined to ensure they are ‘treated fairly’ and acknowledging their ‘central role’ in British life.  

In a bid to win back political support, he also announced further grant funding of £427m for the sector, including £220m to fund technology and innovations such as rooftop solar, to safeguard land for food production. 

The announcement comes after a poll conducted by the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) in December 2023 revealed that support for the Conservative Party has collapsed in rural areas since the 2019 general election, with Labour taking a lead in the polls for the first time.  

Mr Sunak’s performance at the NFU Conference was therefore viewed as an opportunity to try to reverse this trend in an election year through a shower of supportive messages and the promise of extra cash.  

The Prime Minster used his keynote address to announce:  

  • A total of £427m grant funding for agricultural, ensuring the government delivers on its commitment to maintain the farming budget for England at £2.4 billion per year 
  • A £220m fund to be invested in future-focused technology and productivity schemes to ensure farmers can access new equipment, including kit which increases automation to reduce reliance on overseas workers and supports processing, packing, and retailing on farms 
  • A doubling of the management payments for the sustainable farming incentive scheme, putting up to an extra £1,000 in farmers’ pockets 
  • A cutting of red tape around permitted development rights so farmers can easily develop buildings and diversify earnings through farm shops, commercial space, and sporting venues 
  • New regulations to go before Parliament for the dairy sector, ensuring reasonable and transparent contracts 
  • Similar regulations for the pig sector to come later this year, with the egg sector expected to follow 
  • Supply chain fairness for the poultry sector. 

Ian Parker, director at Whitley Stimpson and agricultural tax expert, described the announcements as positive, adding that the Prime Minister will have gone some way to reassure UK farmers, many of whom will have one eye on the ongoing protests across Europe.  

Ian said:

“Rishi Sunak came out with a raft of measures that should help to support British farmers now and in the longer term as they transition to more efficient, profitable, and sustainable practices. As well as this, his rhetoric was that of support. Of course, you would expect this as he was speaking at the NFU Conference, but as he represents a rural constituency, he will at least have some understanding of what farmers are going through.” 

However, Ian was less convinced the measures would make a huge difference at the polls.  

“With surveys indicating farmers have lost faith in the Tories and are looking to put their votes elsewhere, it is difficult to know if this package of measures has done enough to make them reconsider,” Ian said. I think the Tories will have to do more for farmers and the wider countryside if they want to rely on their votes come the election.” 

If you want to discuss any of the measures set out in the Prime Minister’s speech, or any other financial or tax issues, get in touch with Ian Parker on (01295) 270200 or email 

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