Speaking at the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) annual conference, she said: "A great philosopher once said, ‘Regard your good name as the richest jewel you can possibly possess.’ For all of us working in food, that jewel has been tarnished. But all is not lost and our reputation can be repaired."
She said the scandal even offered the sector an opportunity to re-win consumer loyalty by putting customers at the heart of what the indusry does. "The whole chain will need to work on this together – it’s not a job for farming alone – but you will play a vital part, and you can emerge all the stronger."
She said the fact consumers were becoming more interested in the origin of their food would play into the hands of British producers.
Recent IGD research showed almost eight in 10 shoppers agreed that "British farmers deserve the full support of the public". She added: "More than eight in 10 shoppers believe Britain should be more self-sufficient in food, with a similar number saying your customers ought to focus more on selling British food."
She also warned against over-claiming on horsemeat when the testing was still being done. She said the media scrutiny of the sector was intense, and not going to go away soon.
"If you do speak in public about the events of the past few weeks, be careful about over-claiming. We don’t yet have all the evidence. If you pin all the problems on others, then if an issue is found later at any British farm, it would be a terrible own goal."