WALES, UK - Plans to boost productivity and grow food and farming exports by more than £7 billion were announced recently by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, as he visited the Royal Welsh Show in Powys.
The government plans to cut red tape by creating a new single Farm Inspection Taskforce by summer 2016, which will combine farm visits with mandatory checks. Under existing inspection regimes, 7 regulators carry out more than 125,000 farm inspections a year to England’s 250,000 farms.
Streamlining the process, and making better use of available technology and satellite data, result in up to 20,000 fewer farm inspections, which the government hopes will remove limitations on the potential of the farming industry to grow further.
The plans aim to help create more than £7 billion worth of new opportunities, identified by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), to drive up food and drink exports from the whole of the UK to countries outside the EU. 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 the economy.
Other new plans include increased use of the GREAT brand to promote UK food and drink abroad and increasing Protected Food Names from 63 to 200 – with Carmarthen Ham and Welsh Laverbread expected to be confirmed later this summer.
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. More than 8,000 food and drink businesses will have access to the network.
Prime Minister David Cameron 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."
Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said: "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."
Meurig Raymond, President of the UK's National Farmers' Union (NFU), reacted: "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.
“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."ThePoultrySite News Desk