Tories claim Labour treating farmers with ‘contempt’

The Conservatives have accused Labour of “treating rural communities with contempt” by not including a promise to maintain the farming budget in its manifesto.

The party also claimed Labour had a “secret plan” to increase taxes on farmers because it had not explicitly ruled out abolishing an exemption from inheritance tax for agricultural properties.

The Conservatives have pledged to maintain the agricultural property relief on inheritance tax, raise the farming budget to £1 billion and implement a legally binding food security target.

Environment Secretary Steve Barclay said Labour would “cut our farmers off at the knees” as his party criticised Labour for not including the words “rural” or “fishing” in its manifesto.

Mr Barclay said: “Keir Starmer has demonstrated that he doesn’t care about farmers, rural communities, domestic food security – or indeed anyone outside of his London bubble.”

He added: “It’s the same old Labour, treating rural communities with contempt.”

But a Labour spokesperson said the claims were “yet more desperate nonsense from a Conservative Party that has lied throughout this campaign”.

They added: “Our rural communities have been abandoned by this Conservative government. Working families in rural communities face low pay and the highest personal tax burden since the Second World War.

“Farmers have been undercut by poorly negotiated trade deals, locked behind unnecessary trade barriers blocking the export of high-quality produce and face skyrocketing energy prices forcing thousands out of business.

“It’s time for change. Labour will give rural communities their future back.”

Labour has promised a “New Deal for Farmers”, including promises to protect farmers in trade deals and boost food security, saying “food security is national security”.