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Budget brings some benefits for farmers

April 16, 2013 by  
Filed under News & Business

Farmers and rural businesses will see some benefits from last month’s Budget – but there was frustration too that the government could have done more.

Decisions to cut national insurance bills and scrap fuel duty will go some way in helping farm businesses deal with the impact of rising input costs, said the NFU. But more was needed to encourage long-term investment in agriculture.

NFU president Peter Kendall said: “The cancellation of the fuel duty rise in September will help businesses across the economy – including food and farming industries – that have been struggling to absorb rising fuel costs.”

Measures unveiled by Chancellor George Osborne to create a more competitive business environment were also a positive step, said the NFU. This included £500m for sectors where the UK had a comparative global advantage, including agricultural technology.

But Mr Kendall said capital investment would be the real trigger for meeting the long term challenge of food security. “I am disappointed to have heard so little from the Chancellor that will give our farmers and growers the confidence they need to invest in their businesses.”

The UK agri-food had some tremendous opportunities ahead. At home, there remained an opportunity for farmers to expand their share of domestic markets amid unprecedented levels of awareness of food provenance following the horsemeat scandal.

Mr Kendall said: “Last year’s autumn statement contained the welcome announcement on the annual investment allowance, and this is already encouraging plant and machinery expenditure in agriculture. The budget failed to deliver equivalent measures for farm buildings and infrastructure.”

Henry Robinson, deputy president of the Country Land and Business Association said the chancellor had given a “major shot” in the arm to small businesses by cutting employers’ National Insurance in his Budget.

The decision to give every UK company an allowance of £2,000 against its Employer’s National Insurance bill from April 2014 would provide real help for smaller firms – including other rural businesses as well as farms.

“This measure – described by Mr Osborne as the Budget’s largest tax cut – could prove a significant boost to the rural economy,” said Mr Robinson. The CLA also welcomed a decision to cancel the fuel duty rise due in September, saying private transport was an essential part of rural life.

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