After Labour's landslide election victory, the new government must "hit the ground running" to restore confidence among East Anglia's farmers and rural businesses.

That was the message from the region's countryside leaders after a seismic shift in the political landscape, which coincides with a pivotal period for the farming industry.

Farmers have been battling against high costs, volatile markets and sweeping changes to farm policy, including the ongoing phase-out of EU-era subsidies, in favour of a new system of post-Brexit environmental incentives introduced by the previous Tory administration.

While welcoming the new cohort of East Anglian MPs, rural leaders have called on the next government to urgently provide certainty and support to rural industries and communities.

Charles Hesketh, east of England regional policy manager for the National Farmers' Union (NFU)Charles Hesketh, east of England regional policy manager for the National Farmers' Union (NFU) (Image: Pagepix)

Charles Hesketh, regional policy manager for the National Farmers' Union (NFU) in the East of England, said: "I think the first priority is an assurance that the current schemes will remain place, things like Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) scheme, the seasonal workers scheme, and also the continuation of the current supply chain fairness reviews.

"We need that assurance to give some confidence back to our members in the East. Confidence in farming is really low at the moment, off the back of challenges such as the very wet winter and spring, supply chain issues, market volatility, all of those things.

"So to give farmers some blanket of confidence, we need assurances that the current schemes they have already wrapped their head around are not going to get ripped up overnight. I am sure that won't happen, but we would like some assurance on that."

East Anglia is now represented by MPs from five parties across the political spectrumEast Anglia is now represented by MPs from five parties across the political spectrum (Image: Newsquest)

After the election night dramas, East Anglia will now be represented by MPs from five different parties across the political spectrum - with several long-standing, experienced politicians being replaced by new MPs.

Mr Hesketh invited all of them to visit farms to ensure they can understand the sector's concerns and represent rural voices in parliament.

"We have a plan to get them out onto the farm, to get their boots muddy, to come out and see first-hand what our farmers are doing and discuss their issues.

"Our message to the new MPs is: 'Welcome, and we look forward to seeing you out on a farm soon'. The work starts now, really."

Tom Bradshaw is president of the National Farmers' UnionTom Bradshaw is president of the National Farmers' Union (Image: NFU)

NFU president Tom Bradshaw, who farms near Colchester, said the election was a "reset moment for British agriculture".

He outlined priorities including an increased budget for farming - with Labour being the only main party not to make this commitment in its pre-election manifesto.

“Labour’s manifesto recognised that food security is national security, but it is business confidence which forms the foundation of this," said Mr Bradshaw.

"With British farmers and growers ambitious for the future, what they – and the public – need are practical policies that revitalise farm business confidence and deliver on our shared mission of food security.

“In a cost-of-living crisis, our ability to provide affordable, climate friendly and high welfare food will be critical for families across the country, as well as underpinning the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, food and drink, and stimulating economic growth.

“That’s why, for Britain’s farmers, the number one priority for the new Labour government must be to set an increased multi-year agriculture budget for the duration of the next Parliament. This is about investing in the future of British farming – in homegrown food, in the environment and in renewable energy."

Mark Riches is acting East regional director for the Country Land and Business Association (CLA)Mark Riches is acting East regional director for the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) (Image: CLA East)

Mark Riches, acting regional director for the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) in the East of England, said: "We congratulate Labour on its election victory.

"The new government must listen to and learn from the rural community, as farmers and rural business owners can so often provide the solutions to the problems that government faces. 

“The new government must hit the ground running. From providing certainty around the farming budget to overhauling the archaic planning system, it needs to go for growth with a robust and ambitious strategy for the countryside.

“The rural economy is 16pc less productive than the national average and closing that gap could add £43bn to UK GVA (gross value added). With the right support, rural businesses can generate growth, creating good jobs and prosperity for every community.”