18 January 2017

DEFRA: Environment Secretary sets out ambition for food and farming industry

Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom addresses the Oxford Farming Conference 2017.

For an industry that’s been around as long as mankind itself, farming has been at the centre of human achievement. And, no matter how the world around us changes, we rely on the same three basic needs to sustain us – food, air, and water.

Farming is at the heart of all of our lives.

It builds rural communities; it supports our beautiful natural environment. And vitally, as the global population moves towards 9 billion by 2050, it feeds us. Nothing should be more important to us all than the continued success of this great industry, so your theme for this year’s conference, ‘Thrive or Survive’, is very fitting. And I am confident that 2016 will be remembered as the year that the UK chose to do a whole lot more than just ‘survive’. Our ambition – both as a country and as an industry – should be to grow and prosper like never before.

Producing, competing, profiting

The provenance of British food matters to consumers all around the world. When they choose British, they know they can trust the origins of our unique, great tasting products. And through our schools we will be encouraging the next generation to have a closer connection to the land and a better understanding of the food chain.

  • Right now, the whole of our food chain, from farm to fork, adds £110 billion to our economy each year.
  • Food and drink is already the UK’s largest manufacturing sector – adding more value to our economy than the car and aerospace industries combined.
  • Our exports are increasing; non-EU dairy exports are up 91%; wheat exports are up 80%; and, a real triumph, British lamb was voted product of the year in France last year.
  • Agriculture & Food is one of the fastest growing subject areas at University, with the first graduates from Sheffield Hallam’s food engineering course now joining the workforce.
  • And our core-strength is our world-leading position in animal welfare, food safety and food traceability.

So, as we prepare to leave the EU, the fundamentals of the sector are strong. I believe the British people have handed our food, farming and fishing industries an extraordinary opportunity to ‘thrive’.

To read more head to the DEFRA site using this link: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/environment-secretary-sets-out-ambition-for-food-and-farming-industry