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FARMING leaders will lobby hard to ensure all candidates in the June 8 general election understand the importance of agriculture to the economy.

Meurig Raymond, NFU president, said they will ensure all the parties fully understand the issues facing the sector both now and post-Brexit.

"British farms currently grow the raw ingredients for the UK food and drink manufacturing sector worth £108 billion and the public wants to continue to buy British food," he said.

"For that to happen, it’s vital that candidates recognise the enormous contribution that agriculture makes – for every £1 invested, farming delivers £7.40 back to this country – and back British farming."

Helen Woolley, CLA director general, welcomed the opportunity to engage with candidates. "The CLA will work throughout the campaign to ensure MPs understand that the future of the rural economy must be a national priority through Brexit and beyond," she said.

George Dunn, chief executive of the Tenant Farmers Association, called for a constructive General Election campaign and said the TFA will study the Party manifestos to understand what each would do with agricultural policy once out of the Common Agricultural Policy.

The TFA has issued a six-point plan for a new agricultural policy which would correct supply chain failures to ensure fairer returns for farmers; reduce reliance on imported produce to improve food security; protect high standards of food safety, animal welfare and environmental standards; enhance the economic productivity of agriculture; support landscape management, biodiversity enhancement and public access; and promote longer term security for farm tenants.

Mr Dunn said: "Whatever the makeup of the next UK administration, it must not underestimate the need to ensure that it has a forward-looking, comprehensive programme for British agriculture, which protects it against unfair competition both at home and abroad, builds resilience and supports it to produce the wider benefits enjoyed by all for which there is no market return."