The Labour Party has replaced the Conservatives in the UK’s government after a landslide victory in Thursday’s general election.

Keir Starmer took over as prime minister from incumbent Rishi Sunak on Friday, with 412 seats under his party’s belt.

It is the first time Labour has been in power in Westminster since 2010, when Gordon Brown had been prime minister.

Labour did not give many commitments on farming in the party’s manifesto, but it has pledged to seek a sanitary and phytosanitary agreement with the EU to remove the need for the certification of goods with animal or plan origin exported to the EU.

This could help mitigate trade blockages in agri-food goods brought about by Brexit.

The party has also suggested that badger culling is “ineffective” in controlling bovine TB and that it would seek to ban the practice.

Farming focus needed

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) called for the new government to bring agriculture and food security more into the focus of Westminster.

“Although many NI political parties had agriculture policy at the heart of their campaigns, the few references to farmers or food security in the wider UK national debate was noticeable and concerning,” UFU president William Irvine said.

“With 670,000 people living in rural NI and the agri-food sector being the backbone of the rural economy, politicians cannot afford to dismiss the importance of farmers in NI and across the UK.”

The UFU stated that it will begin lobbying efforts immediately and it will work with any party for progress on farming issues.

“We will not shy away from calling out any party or political representative when their stance is unjust towards the farming community,” Irvine commented.

“However, we hope that our politicians will do what is right by our farm families and consumers, to help our agri-industry to thrive in this new parliamentary term.”

Time to ‘reset’

National Farmers’ Union (NFU) president Tom Bradshaw pointed to the change in government as being an appropriate time for the UK to “reset” farming policies.

“Labour’s manifesto recognised that food security is national security, but it is business confidence which forms the foundation of this,” Bradshaw said.

“With British farmers and growers ambitious for the future, what they - and the public - need are practical policies that revitalise farm business confidence and deliver on our shared mission of food security.”

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