Strengthening Support for ‘Buy British’ Initiatives
In a significant move aimed at bolstering the UK’s agriculture sector and encouraging consumers to prioritize locally produced goods, Food and Farming Secretary Thérèse Coffey unveiled a comprehensive package of measures today.
The announcement comes as part of the government’s commitment to maintaining the production of 60% of the food consumed within the UK. These measures aim to provide British farmers with the financial stability they need to invest in their businesses, while also promoting ‘buy British’ initiatives in the food market.
A Boost for the £127 Billion UK Food and Farming Sector
The food and farming sector, valued at £127 billion, is set to receive a much-needed boost from these measures. Secretary Coffey emphasized her support for industry-led efforts to guide consumers towards ‘buying British’ when shopping online. Additionally, she pledged to back campaigns that highlight the exceptional taste and quality of homegrown meat and dairy products.
Sustainable Farming and Public Procurement
The government also confirmed its commitment to promoting sustainable British food production. Farmers who participate in environmental land management schemes will now be able to use their efforts to meet public procurement standards. This development not only benefits British farmers but also allows the public sector to access high-quality British food.
Expanding Trade Opportunities
To further bolster the British food and drink export market, the government is launching a recruitment drive to appoint five additional agri-food attaches. These attaches will play a pivotal role in unlocking new trading markets, thus adding momentum to the £24 billion generated by food and drink exports within the British economy.
Government’s Support for British Farmers
In her statement, Food and Farming Secretary Thérèse Coffey affirmed the government’s unwavering support for British farmers. She praised them for producing some of the highest-quality food globally, contributing significantly to the economy, and serving as custodians of the countryside. Coffey highlighted that these measures are a direct response to commitments made at the Farm to Fork Summit, designed to foster a profitable and sustainable food and farming sector.
Environmental Land Management Success
Secretary Coffey also commended the success of the government’s environmental land management schemes. With 32,000 Countryside Stewardship agreements in place across England for 2023, representing a remarkable 94% increase since 2020, and over 6,000 applications received this year, it’s evident that more farmers are participating in these programs.
Sustainable Farming Incentive 2023
Moreover, the Sustainable Farming Incentive 2023, which offers 23 actions for farmers, is now open for expressions of interest and will begin accepting applications from September 18th. In recognition of the challenges posed by inflation and rising input costs, the government is announcing accelerated payments for farmers with live SFI agreements by year-end, providing vital cash flow support.
Continued Support from Farming Minister Mark Spencer
Farming Minister Mark Spencer expressed his commitment to supporting British farmers and growers. He praised the government’s flexible farming schemes and continued investment in technology and automation for their positive impact on domestic food production and the environment.
Spencer highlighted another record year for Countryside Stewardship and pledged to work closely with the sector to ensure these schemes enable farmers to run profitable and sustainable businesses.
Support for Small Abattoirs and Supply Chain Fairness
The government’s efforts to increase fairness in the supply chain extend to supporting small abattoirs. Plans include identifying opportunities to reduce unnecessary burdens, making it easier for them to operate and reach local and international markets.
A £4 million Small Abattoir Fund, set to open by the end of 2023, will focus on improving productivity, enhancing animal health and welfare, and encouraging investment in new technologies.
Investment in Innovation and Automation
As part of the government’s ongoing investment in innovation and automation to enhance productivity, £30 million has been allocated for farmers to invest in automated, robotic, and solar technologies. Later this year, farmers can bid for a share of £15 million to install solar equipment. This funding, alongside an additional £15 million for automation and robotics, will help reduce fossil fuel use, enhance energy resilience, and accelerate progress toward net-zero emissions.
These measures are poised to reshape the British farming landscape, promoting sustainability, supporting local produce, and fortifying the UK’s position in the global food market. Secretary Coffey’s commitment to British farmers underscores the importance of this sector in driving economic growth and preserving the country’s natural heritage.