No ambition is too high for British food and farming, Environment Secretary, Liz Truss, told delegates at today’s Oxford Farming Conference, for which the chosen theme is “Ambitious Agriculture”.
“We have the land, the technology, the entrepreneurial flair and, above all, the fantastic food to lead the world,” she said, adding that farming was “no sunset industry cut off from the modern mainstream”.
While agreeing that many farmers were currently “feeling the pressure”, focusing her attention particularly on dairying, and acknowledging that “we will continue to face a difficult global market in the coming months”, she remained resolutely upbeat throughout her address.
In that vein, in fact, Ms Truss said that she wanted to make sure that the “hard-working farmers in this industry are able to withstand, as far as possible, the immediate effects and also to have the resilience to handle volatility in the longer term”.
That included a sustained focus on export developments which, since 2010, had produced the signing of deals to open some 600 overseas markets to British food and farm products. Dairy, beef and pork producers were all benefitting from such work, especially the “landmark access agreements” with China for pork and pig products.
“We are making good progress on this (the pork agreement), and the value of the market could be up to £60 million a year,” she told delegates, concluding that it was vital for the industry, in total, to stay “ambitious and outward-looking” to increase producer security against the ups and downs of global economics and politics.