Buy British Fruit and Veg, Minister Says
The Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, has said that buying British fruit & veg will help to boost the economy.
Addressing the Oxford Farming Conference today, Paterson said that Britain imports £8bn of foreign fruit and vegetables in 2012, a quarter of all food eaten in the UK. A proportion of that imported food could be produced in the UK says Mr Paterson.
Whilst acknowledging that certain food types can not be produced in the UK, the DEFRA Minister said that shoppers could be encouraged to buy British fruit and veg where there were alternatives grown in this country.
The Minister said that there is an opportunity to promote UK produce and believes that farmers, manufacturers and the government can do more to push home grown products.
As well as believing that buying British can boost the economy, Mr Paterson added that doing so can bring health and environmental benefits.
Speaking later than billed at the conference after his train was delayed by the severe wet weather, Mr Paterson said:
"We have a top – class fruit and veg sector which produces everything from green beans to strawberries, yet we imported £8 billion of fruit and veg in 2012."
"We can’t grow mangoes or pineapples, but we can encourage UK consumers and food businesses to buy Scottish raspberries or Kent apples."
"This is a huge opportunity, and it’s up to all of us – farmers, food manufacturers and the Government – to take action."
"By buying seasonal fruit and veg we can improve the nation’s health, help the environment and boost the economy."
The Minister has announced changes to livestock movement rules that are expected to bring savings to both farmers and the taxpayer. The changes come after a Farming Regulation Task Force report urged better regulation in farming by reducing bureaucracy but upholding standards. The changes are believed to save £7m a year over the next ten years.
The Oxford Farming Conference, backed by large multinationals, is held at the same time as the alternative Oxford Real Farming Conference.