Prime Minister David Cameron: "As a one nation government we will keep on backing British farmers."

  • Cutting red tape to support Britain’s farmers – 20,000 fewer farm inspections and new single Farm Inspection Taskforce
  • New Food Innovation Network – over 400 food and drink businesses in Wales alone will have access to latest research
  • Plans to protect a record 200 great British foods

Plans to boost productivity and grow food and farming exports by more than £7 billion were announced today by the Prime Minister, as he visited the Royal Welsh Show in Powys.

Under existing inspection regimes, a tangle of 7 regulators carry out more than 125,000 farm inspections a year to England’s 250,000 farms – taking up valuable time and limiting the potential of the farming industry to grow further. Streamlining the process, and making better use of the technology and data, will radically reduce the number of inspections. And by summer 2016, farmers will only have to deal with one Single Farm Inspection Taskforce which will combine farm visits with mandatory checks. It will also use the latest technology to streamline the approach to inspections – for example using satellite data to analyse different crop types in fields.

These changes will also help to create more than £7 billion worth of new opportunities, identified by the CBI, to drive up food and drink exports from the whole of the UK to countries outside the EU, including India, China and Brazil, creating more rural jobs, bringing greater investment to local communities and growing the British economy. This will build on more than 600 markets opened since 2010 – securing access for lamb to China alone could be worth a potential £60 million to our economy. Use of the GREAT brand to promote UK food and drink abroad will also be increased.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

I am very pleased to be at the Royal Welsh Show today to see the best in livestock, food and drink Wales has to offer.

Farming and food production are a fundamental part of our rural economy. As a one nation government, we will keep on backing British farmers to grow and sell more home-grown food by liberating them from red tape and opening up new multi-million pound export markets.

I hope that the Welsh government also looks to do more to simplify inspections to benefit the industry and rural communities.

The government is also committed to increasing Protected Food Names from 63 to 200 – with Carmarthen Ham and Welsh Laverbread expected to be confirmed later this summer.

Winning the status has helped bring economic benefits to businesses across the country, including new jobs in Anglesey, booming exports of Welsh lamb and bring the same international recognition as world famous products like Parma ham and feta cheese. It is estimated the total value of UK Protected Food Names is more than £900 million.

In addition, the creation of a new UK-wide Food Innovation Network will give small and medium-sized businesses greater access to existing world-leading technology and science, helping them innovate and grow.

Examples of science that would benefit smaller business include research at Aberystwyth University to develop grains less harmful for people with type-2 diabetes. This is a ground-breaking project which shows how our UK food innovation can lead the way on the international stage and open the door for many smaller producers to export more.

More than 8,000 food and drink businesses will have access to the network.

Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said:

We are hugely ambitious for the future of food and farming and its potential to drive growth across the UK – that’s why we are supporting the industry to drive up exports to record levels so more of our fantastic British food and drink is on supermarket shelves, and in bars and restaurants, from Beijing to Bogota.

Our food and farming industry is already an economic powerhouse, worth over £100 billion a year and supporting 1 in 8 jobs – removing barriers to growth will help these figures rise meaning more jobs and more investment in rural communities.

Secretary of State for Wales Stephen Crabb said:

Wales’s profile as a world class producer of food and drink is a key driver of economic growth and a critical component of our tourism sector. The global appetite for home-grown Welsh produce has never been stronger.

From Anglesey’s Halen Mon to Welsh Laverbread, an increasing number of products with the ‘Made in Wales’ stamp are now being recognised all over the world.

It is imperative that we continue to provide our food pioneers with the right level of support at home and in overseas markets. In doing so, we can help unlock the huge potential this sector has to be a significant engine of growth and job creation for Wales’s rural economy.

Notes to editors

  • The government is representing our farmers’ interests in Europe by pushing for fewer farm inspections, simpler guidance, a more pragmatic approach to penalties for minor administrative errors and an overhaul of the complex greening requirements to help make the Common Agricultural Policy simpler for farmers in England and Wales.

  • By the autumn a new system will be in place offering farmers a single helpline for the Rural Payment Agency (RPA) and Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), which are responsible for 75% of the work.

  • In the last 5 years our food and drink exports have risen £1.8 billion, with nearly £19 billion of UK food and drink exported to 214 countries and territories around the world last year – this includes ice to Sweden, wine to Australia, chillies to Pakistan and tea to China. Significant export gains across the industry since 2010 have seen salmon leap 58% to £617 million, pork rise 48% to £244 million and cheese 38% to £469 million. Welsh exports currently stand at £300 million – growing this figure would add to the 230,000 currently employed in Wales’ food chain.

  • From farm to fork, the UK food chain contributes £103 billion to our economy – more than cars and aerospace combined – and food and drink is the single largest manufacturing sector in the UK. It also employs around 1 in 8 people – a figure that rises in rural areas. The Welsh food chain employs 48,000 people and generates £1.3 billion per year.

  • There are 193,000 food and drink businesses in the UK, which buy two-thirds of the UK’s agricultural produce and have a combined turnover of £415 billion.

  • The UK food and drink sector is highly innovative, introducing around 16,000 new products every year – more than France and Germany combined and second in the world only to the US.

Since October 2013, the UK government has helped 3,760 food and drink businesses sell their produce abroad.

Find out more details on the CBI figures

For further information contact Defra press office on 020 7238 5334.