The UK government launched a campaign to encourage farmers to export their produce on Tuesday, saying the country's farming “stands to gain from the more liberal approach to trade the government is pursuing outside the EU" post-Brexit.
The initiative was launched in partnership with the National Farmers Union, Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).
Speaking at the NFU Live Conference, international trade secretary Liz Truss said the high quality of UK produce makes it highly competitive in the global marketplace and appealing to growing middle classes in parts of the world such as Asia.
“We need to look beyond our shores. By the end of this decade, 66% of the world’s middle-class consumers are expected to be found in Asia. They are hungry for top-quality food and drink,” she said.
“I want more farmers and food producers to grasp these sorts of opportunities and go global. Embracing fast-growing markets will ensure we always have somewhere to sell our food and drink, be resilient to any future economic shocks, and help maximise the potential of our exports,” she added.
She said that currently only one in five of our food manufacturers export and the government wants to help more do so.
The government also plans to provide practical help for farmers and producers, including exporting masterclasses and a mentoring programme to give would-be exporters the tools and knowledge they need to start selling their produce internationally.
DIT said the UK’s food and drink industry already enjoys "huge successes" in the global market, exporting nearly £22bn ($31bn) in agri-food and drink overseas for 2020.
But it said businesses can boost exports even more by taking advantage of the opportunities new trade deals will bring.
Ian Wright, FDF CEO, said that “increasing government support will be warmly welcomed by food and drink manufacturers as they chart their entry into new international markets."
"As the UK re-establishes itself as a great independent trading nation, our quick return to growth will be essential to strengthen resilience across the industry," he added.
Meanwhile AHDB international market development director Phil Hadley said UK beef producers now have access to the US market for the first time in over 20 years, and thanks to the UK-Japan trade deal, "our fantastic products from Welsh lamb to English sparkling wine could be protected geographical indications.”
In December last year, the UK government said it will make 30,000 visas available for farm workers for as it prepared to leave the EU, up from 2,500 last year.
The scheme was designed to test the effectiveness of the UK’s immigration system at supporting UK growers during peak production periods, whilst maintaining robust immigration control, and ensuring the welfare of participating migrant workers.
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