New Defra Secretary Ranil Jayawardena has indicated he will review food labelling rules with new ‘British’ labelling to tighten up gaps that currently allow EU pork to be labelled as British.
Addressing the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, he also confirmed that Defra is looking to reduce farming’s regulatory burden, but insisted it ‘remains committed’ to its environmental schemes.
He said there was ‘enormous opportunity’ for growth in the UK’s food and drink sector, which could bring jobs, skills and prosperity across the nation.
“More than ever, we know the importance of food security – it is crucial for our national resilience and we must boost it further still. British food and British farming are the best in the world – premium products that should not just be enjoyed at home – rather they should be championed around the world,” he said.
“Here at home, we should be able to buy British with confidence and pride. But, to do that, we need to tighten up our labelling.
“We have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world. Shoppers vote with their feet and choose to buy British for just that reason. And yet, did you know that Danish pork processed in Britain can be sold as British?”
He stressed that the UK was no longer bound by the EU for its rules, adding: “That’s why we will be working with supermarkets and producers to improve the data they collect on where our food comes from – and we will launch new British labelling, so that the people of our great nation can have confidence that anything labelled as British IS British.”
He also pledged to sell more British food around the globe, using the Union Flag to symbolise ‘once again the quality that people around the world want to buy’.
Flagging up the Government’s supply-side reforms, he promised that, outside the EU, Defra is going to ‘free our farmers’. “We are listening to all sides for new ideas to get Britain growing, such as the review undertaken by Baroness Rock to back our tenant farmers,” he said.
“We announced in our growth plan that we would review farming regulations but – contrary to what you might have read in some corners of the media – we remain committed to our environmental schemes that support our farmers as they look after our countryside.
“Some rules in the past didn’t do what they set out to. The three-crop rule and greening requirements are already gone and we will be announcing more in the coming weeks. I bulldozed 400 trade barriers in my time at Trade and I will continue to get things done.”
“We will use our new grant schemes to support farmers and food producers to invest in the technology that will boost their productivity and profitability.”