Written by Rachel Martin
Farming and rural bodies say they are hopeful unprecedented measures announced this week by Chancellor Rishi Sunak to kickstart the economy could help boost domestic sales for higher-margin red meat cuts.
The ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme offers diners half-price meals at restaurants participating in the scheme each week from Monday to Wednesday throughout August.
NFU president Minette Batters said: “It remains clear that the entire nation and economy will be facing a long recovery to bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic.
“The hospitality sector reopening is significant for British farmers and it will play a central role in farming’s recovery.
We hope the announcement today to stimulate the hospitality and tourism sectors by cutting VAT will see increasing demand which will help British food flow back into our pubs, cafes and restaurants. This will start to ease the pressure many farm businesses are facing.
“There are thousands of diversified farms with tourism and hospitality businesses that could also benefit from the stimulus created by this cut, helping them to play a key role in reviving the economy. The ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ discount could also play a significant role to stimulate demand for the quality British produce they supply.
“There is an opportunity now for food service to demonstrate their commitment to British farmers and provide the public with even more opportunities to purchase quality British food and drink.
“There remain some challenges, not least for growers of cider apples and hops. While they will benefit from the hospitality sector reopening, they will not benefit from the measures today and may need further support.
“We look forward to further announcements by the Chancellor in the Autumn on how his recovery package will support the rural economy.
“We are submitting our own proposals to the government to ensure the farming sector plays a full and lasting role in the green recovery the Chancellor announced today.”
‘If the countryside is to open, it must fully open’
Sarah Lee, head of policy at rural campaign group Countryside Alliance, said: “Today the Chancellor announced a £30 billion support package, with specific measures to help the countryside.
The Government has listened to the concerns of the countryside, and have announced a VAT cut from 20% to 5%, as well as the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ support scheme – the first in history. Measures announced today will help the rural economy, in which tourism plays a central and core role.
“The Chancellor has listened to calls from the Countryside Alliance that if the countryside is to open, it must be able to fully open.
“At a time when so many in rural and coastal areas have felt incredibly anxious about the future of their business, these announcements make it possible for businesses to open and welcome all those visiting our beautiful countryside and coastal areas.
“We must now ensure that local authorities, particularly those that thrive off the back of visiting tourists, get on board and encourage people to visit.”
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