Rishi Sunak today vowed to slash red tape for farmers looking to turn old barns into shops as he welcomed Clarkson’s Farm star Kaleb Cooper to Downing Street.
The Prime Minister set out plans to make it easier for British farmers to diversify their incomes, such as through setting up farm shops on their land.
Under the Government’s proposals, farmers would no longer need to seek permission from local councils to repurpose farm buildings.
The move comes after the much-publicised travails of Jeremy Clarkson, documented in the Amazon Prime show Clarkson’s Farm, to turn a profit on his Diddly Squat Farm.
The series has revealed the ex-Top Gear host’s many planning battles over his Diddly Squat Farm Shop, as well as his bid to set up a restaurant on his Oxfordshire farm.
Two of the show’s stars – Cooper and ‘Cheerful’ Charlie Ireland, who is Clarkson’s land agent – were pictured arriving at No10 today as the PM hosted a farming summit.
Clarkson’s Farm star Kaleb Cooper arrives at No10 today as the PM hosts a farming summit
The Amazon Prime show documents Jeremy Clarkson’s travails in trying to turn a profit on his Diddly Squat Farm
The series has revealed the ex-Top Gear host’s many planning battles over his Diddly Squat Farm Shop, as well as his bid to set up a restaurant on his Oxfordshire farm
As part of a package of support for UK farmers – announced to coincide with the ‘Farm to Fork’ summit – Downing Street revealed plans to ‘increase the resilience’ of Britain’s farming industry and ‘support its growth’.
This includes proposals to ‘cut the red tape currently holding farmers back from delivering projects on their land to diversify their incomes, such as repurposing farm buildings to use as shops’, No10 added.
A consultation on the proposals will be launched later this year.
Asked whether farmers could also set up restaurants in repurposed farm buildings, the PM’s official spokesman told reporters: ‘Shops is an example, so what we’re announcing are plans to remove the barriers that farmers face when trying to diversify their businesses.
‘So, for example, they won’t face the kind of red tape they did previously when looking to change barns to farm shops or use them to process goods for sale.
‘Because, under the plans, they would no longer require local authority consent. It’s going to be consulted on later this year.’
Mr Sunak’s spokesman praised Clarkson’s Farm as being ‘important in raising some of the issues farmers face and some of the policy set out today will support the farming sector’.
The PM also discussed the plans to boost Britain’s farming sector with his Cabinet ministers this morning, during which he insisted the proposals were ‘not about some nostalgic vision of the UK’s rural past’.
‘Turning to the Farm to Fork summit… the PM said the event will focus on how Government and industry can best work together to grow a thriving food sector here in the UK,’ a Downing Street readout of today’s Cabinet meeting said.
‘He said this was not about some nostalgic vision of the UK’s rural past, but about growing the economy, creating more jobs, and building the UK’s food security.
‘The Environment Secretary (Theresa Coffey) talked Cabinet through the headline policies to be announced at the Summit, including protecting UK food and production standards in trade deals, and making it easier for farmers to diversify their incomes by repurposing their buildings to use as shops.
‘The PM concluded Cabinet by saying that it is crucial we continue this important work to provide an even stronger offer for farmers as they help grow the economy.’
Rishi Sunak vowed to ‘always back British farmers’ as he hosted a ‘Farm to Fork’ summit in Downing Street
The PM said supporting farmers would be ‘at the heart of our plans to grow the economy and build a more prosperous country’
Alongside the plans to slash red tape for farmers, the Government has also announced up to £30million of investment to drive forward the use of precision breeding technologies, new reviews into fairness in horticulture and egg supply chains, and an assurance of protections for farmers in new post-Brexit trade deals.
National Farmers’ Union president Minette Batters described the food summit as ‘timely’.
Speaking outside Downing Street after the meeting, she said: ‘I think the move was very positive.
‘It’s the first Farm to Fork food summit that No10 have ever hosted and extremely timely because, of course, we’re facing enormous cost inflation pressures.
‘The PM hosted this summit, members of Cabinet circulated with everybody beforehand so there was opportunity for everybody here to have conversations right across Government.
‘Ultimately, that is what No10 does, it brings departments together to solve problems, but also, I think, a strong ambition, a new attache is appointed today for British food, not only at home but abroad as well.’
The union leader said she had ten minutes alone with the PM and spoke to Mr Sunak about how a billion less eggs were produced last year, how salad ingredients had to be rationed and how to make Britain more self-sufficient.
‘I’m really confident that he gets the issue. He is from a very rural constituency, farming is at the heart of his constituency,’ she added.
‘He wants to see this work. I do feel it is very much a change agenda from previous administrations and now we just have to work on delivery and the actions that have been agreed today.’
Speaking ahead of today’s farming summit, the PM said: ‘I will always back British farmers, and I pay tribute to their hard work and dedication all year round which keeps shelves stocked and food on our tables.
‘Supporting our farmers and food producers must, and always will be, at the heart of our plans to grow the economy and build a more prosperous country.
‘That’s why I’m proud to host this summit, and working together, I’m determined to build resilience, strengthen our food security and champion the best of British at home and overseas.’