See below for an extract from Secretary of State Michael Gove setting out his vision on the future of our farming industry at the Oxford Farming Conference 2018:
Food and Drink is the UK’s biggest manufacturing sector and one of its fastest growing with an increase of 8% in exports to the EU and 10% in exports outside the EU in the first three quarters of last year alone.
That success has been built on a reputation for quality and provenance, on the knowledge that we have among the highest environmental and animal welfare standards of any nation on earth. So people know when they’re buying British they’re buying food which is guaranteed to be high quality and more sustainable.
That’s why it would be foolish for us to lower animal welfare or environmental standards in trade deals, and in so doing undercut our own reputation for quality. We will succeed in the global market place because we are competing at the top of the value chain not trying to win a race to the bottom.
And Government can help in that process by under-writing that reputation for quality.
Which is why I want us, outside the EU, to develop new approaches to food labelling. Not just badging food properly as British, but also creating a new gold-standard metric for food and farming quality.
There are already a number of ways in which farmers can secure recognition for high animal welfare or environmental standards from the Red Tractor scheme to the Leaf mark. But while they’re all impressive and outstanding there’s still no single, scaled, measure of how a farmer or food producer performs against a sensible basket of indicators, taking into account such things as soil health, control of pollution, contribution to water quality as well as animal welfare. We’ve been in discussion with a number of farmers and food producers about how we might advance such a scheme and I think that, outside the EU, we could establish a measure of farm and food quality which would be world-leading.
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