PM sets out £7bn growth proposal for UK food

Prime Minister David Cameron has announced plans to boost productivity while growing food and farm exports by more than £7 billion. 

Speaking at this week’s Royal Welsh Show, Cameron hopes to streamline inspection regimes by reducing the number of inspections and creating a single Farm Inspection Taskforce, which will combine visits with mandatory checks. He also wants to utilise technology to save time on inspection – for example using satellite data to analyse different crops.

Exports are also a target for the Prime Minister, as he hopes to create more than £7bn-worth of new opportunities to drive up food and drink exports from the UK to countries outside the EU, including India, China and Brazil, in an attempt to create more rural jobs, bring greater investment to local communities and grow the British economy.

Hoping to build on the 600-plus markets opened since 2010, Cameron added that securing access for lamb to China alone could be worth a potential £60m to the economy.

He said: “Farming and food production are a fundamental part of our rural economy. As a One Nation government, we will keep on backing British farmers to grow and sell more home-grown food by liberating them from red tape and opening up new multi-million pound export markets.”

The Prime Minister also pledged to increase the number of British Protected Food Names from 63 to 200, with Carmarthen Ham to be confirmed later this summer.

NFU president Meurig Raymond welcomed the announcement. “Despite current short-term challenges, the British farming sector has strong ambitions to make the most of significant opportunities to grow the industry.

“The NFU welcomes the prospect of simplification of the regulatory regime, which should remove barriers to growth and encourage investment. At a time when commodity prices have plummeted, delivering reduced administration hurdles must also equate to reduced costs for farm businesses.

He did add, however, that there was more that could be done.

“Today’s announcement by the Prime Minister shows that the government is taking this issue seriously, but there is still much that can be done, as highlighted in the NFU’s manifesto,” said Raymond. “We need to create more opportunities to get more great British products into new domestic and global markets. The NFU shares the government’s ambition to develop a 25-year plan and develop a profitable, productive and sustainable food and farming sector, with good access to research, science and technology.”

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