Plans to boost productivity and grow food and farming exports by more than £7 billion were announced today by the Prime Minister, as he visited the Royal Welsh Show in Powys.
Under existing inspection regimes, a tangle of 7 regulators carry out more than 125,000 farm inspections a year to England’s 250,000 farms – taking up valuable time and limiting the potential of the farming industry to grow further. Streamlining the process, and making better use of the technology and data, will radically reduce the number of inspections. And by summer 2016, farmers will only have to deal with one Single Farm Inspection Taskforce which will combine farm visits with mandatory checks. It will also use the latest technology to streamline the approach to inspections – for example using satellite data to analyse different crop types in fields.
These changes will also help to create more than £7 billion worth of new opportunities, identified by the CBI, to drive up food and drink exports from the whole of the UK to countries outside the EU, including India, China and Brazil, creating more rural jobs, bringing greater investment to local communities and growing the British economy. This will build on more than 600 markets opened since 2010 – securing access for lamb to China alone could be worth a potential £60 million to our economy. Use of the GREAT brand to promote UK food and drink abroad will also be increased.
Prime Minister David Cameron said:
I am very pleased to be at the Royal Welsh Show today to see the best in livestock, food and drink Wales has to offer.
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.
I hope that the Welsh government also looks to do more to simplify inspections to benefit the industry and rural communities.
The government is also committed to increasing Protected Food Names from 63 to 200 – with Carmarthen Ham and Welsh Laverbread expected to be confirmed later this summer.
Winning the status has helped bring economic benefits to businesses across the country, including new jobs in Anglesey, booming exports of Welsh lamb and bring the same international recognition as world famous products like Parma ham and feta cheese. It is estimated the total value of UK Protected Food Names is more than £900 million.
In addition, the creation of a new UK-wide Food Innovation Network will give small and medium-sized businesses greater access to existing world-leading technology and science, helping them innovate and grow.
Examples of science that would benefit smaller business include research with Unilever at Aberystwyth University to develop grains less harmful for people with type-2 diabetes. This is a ground-breaking project which shows how our UK food innovation can lead the way on the international stage and open the door for many smaller producers to export more.
More than 8,000 food and drink businesses will have access to the network.
Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said:
We are hugely ambitious for the future of food and farming and its potential to drive growth across the UK – that’s why we are supporting the industry to drive up exports to record levels so more of our fantastic British food and drink is on supermarket shelves, and in bars and restaurants, from Beijing to Bogota.
Our food and farming industry is already an economic powerhouse, worth over £100 billion a year and supporting 1 in 8 jobs – removing barriers to growth will help these figures rise meaning more jobs and more investment in rural communities.
Secretary of State for Wales Stephen Crabb said:
Wales’s profile as a world class producer of food and drink is a key driver of economic growth and a critical component of our tourism sector. The global appetite for home-grown Welsh produce has never been stronger.
From Anglesey’s Halen Mon to Welsh Laverbread, an increasing number of products with the ‘Made in Wales’ stamp are now being recognised all over the world.
It is imperative that we continue to provide our food pioneers with the right level of support at home and in overseas markets. In doing so, we can help unlock the huge potential this sector has to be a significant engine of growth and job creation for Wales’s rural economy.