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A shared vision, a shared responsibility - Miliband

by 5m Editor
26 February 2007, at 3:08pm

UK - Government's commitment to work with industry to develop environmental labelling of food, was outlined today by David Miliband, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Speaking at the National Farmers Union Annual Conference in Birmingham, he said:

“Environmental quality is becoming an important factor in consumers' decisions alongside nutritional quality and price. I can envisage the next step where, as well as nutritional standards, environmental standards become the norm on food packaging.

“This is not an easy piece of work and will take time, particularly if this includes the whole lifecycle impact of food from production to distribution. In the shorter term, we want to develop environmental standards for food production. This could cover a range of factors including energy inputs, fertiliser use, soil management, waste management and water pollution.

“I want Defra to work with producers, retailers, environmental organisations and existing assurance bodies on whether we can agree on a green standard, that informs and empowers consumers and gives farmers recognition in the marketplace.”

Mr Miliband also called for the NFU, industry and government to work together to achieve a shared vision for farming's future:

“We need to work with you to develop active programmes that will support you in delivering your potential - as a world class industry, profitable in the marketplace, making a positive contribution to the environment and being rewarded for your sensitive management of the countryside.”

Mr Miliband's speech highlighted how this shared vision could be achieved:
  • Policy on bio-energy and non-food crops will be set out in three documents published in Spring: The Energy White Paper; the UK Biomass Strategy; and the Government's response to the two year progress report on the strategy for non food crops.
  • Proposals to speed up growth in anaerobic digestion will be detailed in the UK Biomass Strategy and the Waste Strategy. The Environment Agency will work to develop a standard for digestate in 2007/08, which should allow digestate to be treated as a product rather than waste.
  • The new Levy Board UK will drive forward significant efficiencies across the agricultural and horticultural industries. Mr Miliband announced the Chairs of the six sector companies and three independent members today.
  • Government spends over £30M a year on research and development for farming and the food chain and an additional £40 million on animal health and welfare related research. An extra £0.5m has been earmarked next year to help farming respond to the challenge of climate change.
  • The Rural Climate Change Forum will advise Government on how best to ensure that farmers are equipped with the information and advice they need to turn research results into practical action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • A new package of measures to assist the dairy and livestock sectors will be part funded by the Rural Development Programme for England.
  • Reform of CAP, beginning with the 2008 healthcheck, to promote quality and innovation on a level playing field, and rewards by the taxpayer only for achieving specific environmental and landscape benefits
To read Mr Miliband's speech - NFU Conference 2007 (PDF) Click Here

5m Editor