Lincolnshire farmer's plea for 'freedom to invest' ahead of budget announcement
Louth farmer, John Smith, sets out his farming industry wish-list ahead of tomorrow's budget announcement. Picture: Jon Corken.
By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 8 Mar 2017
LINCOLNSHIRE'S farmers need "encouragement to invest" in rural business and handed freedom to trade with the world in order to thrive in a post-Brexit Britain.
The chancellor's budget announcement tomorrow presents a huge opportunity for farmers to be given a licence to invest, grow and break free from restrictive tax allowances.
That's according to the National Farmers Union's (NFU) Lincolnshire delegate, John Smith, who has outlined his wish list for Phillip Hammond's annual budget announcement.
The chancellor will reveal the government's spending and saving plans for the year ahead tomorrow lunchtime, the first budget since June's Brexit vote.
In January, Louth farmer John, spoke publicly about how the region's farmers are braced for "carnage" with Brexit threatening key trade deals. It signals the biggest change in a generation and could see the Government sacrifice the UK's membership of the single market and customs union - a change that would shake the farming industry to its core.
But with the full details of Brexit still unknown and with Prime Minister, Theresa May, still battling with MPs and the House of Lords over a deal for Britain's breakaway from the EU, John, owner of Louth Tractors, is pleading with the chancellor to "let us invest".
He said: "We are about to head into a brave new world and it will need a degree of restructuring.
"We need to see investment in order to move forward. I am not asking for heaps of cash, just freedom to be able to fend for ourselves.
"There needs to be encouragement to produce more home grown food and turn in to a nation of exporters. We rely heavily on imports and we need to become more self-sufficient.
"Farming will only succeed as an industry post-Btrexit through co-operation and encouragement. The future is still very uncertain and without knowing which direction we are heading, it's hard to prepare for what's to come."
The key to being able to more freely invest would come from an announcement of more consistent tax rates in measures like the annual investment allowance. Knowing how much can be spent on capital investments without being restrained by taxes will help farmers plan investment for years in advance.
John is calling for the chancellor to allow farmers to enjoy consistency in tax rates, which would catapult investment and improve efficiency.
He said: "Farmers need tax breaks to invest in new technology. We are seeing more and more precision farming and robotics being used.
"For us to invest it needs a commitment to research and development and I hope the tax system recognises that.
"There is a desire for change and there is a big opportunity now to put the industry back on its feet."