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OFC: Investment in Research to Make British Agriculture More Competitive

7 January 2016, at 12:00am

UK - The British government is to focus more investment on research into animal and plant health research in a bid to make British agriculture more competitive.

Speaking at the Oxford Farming Conference this week, agriculture secretary, Liz Truss, said that the government plans to increase capital funding in agriculture by 12 per cent over the next five years to £2.7 billion.

The investment includes doubling investment in science and animal and plant health.

“We will invest in technology, digital systems, growing our exports, world leading science, protection against animal health and plant disease and flood defences,” Mrs Truss said.

The agriculture secretary said that British government will shortly be publishing a new programme for Food and Farming for the Environment covering the next 25 years, which will include decentralising decision making in the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and cutting red tape for farmers.

Mrs Truss also called for more flexibility from the EU in the implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy.

“If our food and farming industry is to power ahead, it is vital that Brussels becomes more flexible, more competitive and cuts red tape,” Mrs Truss said.

She said that she would be fighting to abolish the three crop rule and called for reforms of the audit and controls regime in the CAP.

“Improving Europe’s competitiveness is a key plank of our reforms,” she told the conference.

“It would make Europe more flexible, outward-looking and dynamic and we could see faster progress on a China Free Trade agreement.

“That would mean our dairy producers no longer paying 15 per cent tariffs.”

The agriculture secretary later added that one of her goals this year is to see the return of British beef exports onto the US market, following the ban that was imposed because of BSE more than 20 years ago.

Mrs Truss said that the government will have to work with the agriculture sector supporting business to increase investment and improve skills to raise productivity and close the gap on the competition.

She said that the farming sector needed to make the “most of one of its precious assets, the Great British Brand”.

As part of the support for British farming Mrs Truss said that this year will be the Year of Great British Food - a year of trade missions and events to promote farming and food businesses.

The promotion supported by the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board will be designed to celebrate the British origin of food.

“People will know that meat will be British, thanks to the new rules on country of origin labelling for pork, lamb and chicken that came into force last April,” Mrs Truss said.

She added: “We have to sharpen our competitiveness and productivity and look outwards.

“We have to build our resilience to the growing risk of shocks and events from the changing climate and increased global trade.

“The global challenges we face bring huge opportunities for new prosperity, jobs, environmental progress and global leadership.

“This will require bold ambition and bold solutions from government and from industry.”

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