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Andrea Leadsom says agriculture will play vital role post-Brexit as she backs Star's campaign

Mid Wales | News | Published:

Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom is backing the Shropshire Star's Fair Deal for Farmers campaign, saying that agriculture will play a vital role in post-Brexit Britain.

Outlining her plans for the future of the industry, Mrs Leadsom said the Government would be looking to deliver a £2.9 billion boost to food exports over the next five years.

Mrs Leadsom, who in the last few days was promoting British produce at the world's largest food fair in Paris, said there was a huge appetite around the world for food and drink from Shropshire farms.

And she praised our Fair Deal for Farmers campaign for the way it highlighted the wider benefits to the economy of a vibrant agricultural sector.

"I'm delighted to back the 'Fair Deal for Farmers' campaign, which is a fantastic way to highlight and promote the industry in Shropshire," said Mrs Leadsom.

"Looking at the campaign, I have been very impressed by its joined up approach with media, businesses and the community all coming together in support of local farmers and food producers.

"Our farmers are world leaders in animal welfare, food safety and food traceability – something we should all be proud of."

Mrs Leadsom said the Government would play its part by supporting farmers in the battle against animal and plant disease and by continuing to promote their top class food at home and abroad.

"We are also committed to negotiating the best deal for them when Britain exits the European Union," she told the Shropshire Star.

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"The farming industry will have a wonderful opportunity in the coming years to increase its trade on a global stage and I will be working to ensure Shropshire and elsewhere benefit."

The Fair Deal for Farmers campaign was launched by the Shropshire Star last month to highlight the importance of agriculture to the UK economy. We showed how one family farm on the Welsh border supported 229,000 jobs, ranging from vets to tyre fitters. We are also compiling an online directory of businesses which back our farmers by selling local produce, and issuing stickers to those businesses so customers can identify them.

The campaign has been backed by celebrities including Springwatch presenter Kate Humble and Countryfile's Adam Henson, as well as the National Farmers' Union, NFU Cymru and the Farmers' Union of Wales.

Mrs Leadsom pledged to take food exports "to the next level" during her visit to the Salon International de l'alimentation in Paris.

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Announcing the Government's new International Action Plan for Food and Drink, Mrs Leadsom identified nine markets across 18 countries with the best potential for growth.

She said there was strong demand in Japan for classic British products such as tea, jam and biscuits, as well as new opportunities to increase sales of British beef. The plan also identified a thirst for British beer and cider in Australia and New Zealand, which could yield an extra £293 million for the UK economy. The plan also identified a £215 million export boost in Mexico and Latin America through growing demand for a wide range of British products including our whisky and gin.

Join our campaign – and highlight how you place the produce of Shropshire and Mid Wales in the shop window.

We have launched a directory of businesses that support our region's farmers - see it at shropshirestar.com/farmers

You might be a butcher, baker, deli or even a florist. You may run a restaurant, pub or cafe. Or you may sell your wares at fairs or farmers markets.

As long as you use produce made by farmers in our region, you can be included.

The Shropshire Star will create an online directory of businesses that support our farmers.

And we will send you a Fair Deal for Farmers window sticker that you can display to your customers.

It is easy to get involved:

Send an email to us at: newsroom@shropshirestar.co.uk

Write to: Fair Deal, Shropshire Star, Ketley, Telford TF1 5HU

We need to know your name, the name of your business and its address and how you support farmers – please also name farms you support and the produce you either sell or serve up.

Mrs Leadsom said Britain had sold more than £10 billion worth of food and drink overseas in the past seven months, an increase of six per cent compared to 2015.

"There is no doubt we are open for business and ready to trade," she said.

"Our food and drink is renowned for having the very best standards of animal welfare, quality and safety and I want even more of the world to enjoy what we have to offer.

"Scottish salmon, Welsh beef, Northern Irish whiskey and English cheese are already well-known globally and I want us to build on this success by helping even more companies send their top quality food and drink abroad."

She said that over the next five years the Government would work with the food industry to boost exports by providing business support, mentoring and training to give new companies the confidence and skills to sell their products abroad.

Mrs Leadsom, who is also due to visit China next month(NOV) to promote British produce, said the aim was to turn our food and drink into household names from New York to Nairobi.

The plan will target additional markets including India, USA and Canada, and the Gulf. Across these countries work is underway to secure new access – notably, market access for beef and poultry to Japan, lamb and beef to the US, and pork to China.

International Trade Minister, the Wyre Forest MP Mark Garnier, said trade was at the heart of the Government's agenda.

"We are working hard to help UK companies take advantage of the global demand for British goods and services," he said.

"This ambitious new plan shows the strength of our commitment to boosting UK food and drink exports around the world.

"Whether it's helping our businesses to understand target markets, providing access to trade missions or advice on export finance, we are committed to helping budding exporters realise their dreams of building a global business."

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