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Country News - 2002

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Budget "failed farmers" says NFU
Thursday 18 April

YESTERDAY'S Budget was a failed opportunity for farmers and the rural community, according to a statement issued by NFU President Ben Gill.

Mr Gill said Chancellor Gordon Brown's statement "conspicuously failed to mention the continued suffering of the countryside following foot and mouth and years of financial trouble."

He said: "There was little for farmers and growers in this Budget. Opportunities to help them rebuild their businesses following last year's disaster were not taken."

While the Chancellor did not raise fuel duty, Mr Gill pointed out that British hauliers still pay on average around £10,000 a year more in tax than their European counterparts. This adds a massive cost to rural-based industries that are heavily dependent on road transport.

The Chancellor's failure to give larger tax breaks for bio diesel - produced from crops grown on farms - will hold up the development of this potentially important industry. Mr Gill said: "To be competitive, bio fuel needs to have an extremely low level of duty.

"This is an industry that needs to be encouraged, both for the sake of the environment and for farmers and growers to boost their businesses. The Chancellor failed to do this today."

Mr Gill welcomed the introduction of working tax credits which will assist farmers with little or no profits and the fact that there was no increase in inheritance tax and stamp duty. Moves to give tax breaks to small businesses were also of some comfort to farmers and growers, he said.

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