Environment Secretary backs ‘clearer labeling’ of UK produce

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Environment Secretary Steve Barclay pledged that the UK government would “quickly consult on clearer labeling” to address “the inequities caused by misleading labeling” and protect farmers and consumers.

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At the 2024 Oxford Agriculture Conference, Steve Barclay, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, announced that the UK government supports “clearer labeling” for UK food products, including the use of the British GI logo on food products. announced plans. packing.

Mr Barclay’s role as environment secretary, appointed in November 2023, means he will have specific responsibility for international relations as well as the budget, including ODA.

Speaking at the Oxford Agriculture Conference on January 4, Mr Barclay took the time to outline what the UK government has defined as the “biggest upgrade to Britain’s agricultural plan”.

“Food security is the cornerstone of our broader national security,” Barclay said, adding that “food production can and should be inextricably linked to maintaining diversity, so environmental and land We are committed to providing a clearer focus on enabling food production in management plans.” And rich nature. ”

As part of his speech, Mr Barclay confirmed that prices for environmental land management schemes will be updated and shared that there will be an average 10 per cent increase in prices to extract more funding for these schemes. In short, Berkeley acknowledged that the British government would “pay.” [farmers] We would be happy if you could be more involved in our environment and management plans. ” he hopes.[make] it’s more attractive [farmers] Participate.”

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“Those who are already on the scheme will automatically benefit from this increase. Additionally, if you have plans to put things together in a way that makes a big difference, a premium will be paid for that as well. ” Barclay continued.

But the Environment Secretary also shared a desire to build “further trust” between farmers and the UK Government.

“Based on the feedback I have received, farmers too often feel that regulators are starting from a position of suspicion rather than trust,” Barclay said.

Request clearer indication

Mr Barclay also stressed that the UK government would “quickly consult on clearer labeling” as a way of “addressing the inequities caused by misleading labeling and protecting farmers and consumers”.

In 2022, just over 18.1 million hectares of land was used for agriculture in the UK. However, this figure has fallen slightly in recent years, peaking at around £18.8 million in 2017, according to Statista. Despite this decline, the agricultural sector contributed a total of over GBP 12.1 billion to the national economy in 2021 alone. .

“British farmers are rightly proud of producing food that meets and even exceeds world-leading animal welfare and environmental standards. But too often products produced to lower welfare standards abroad are not clearly labeled to distinguish them.” Mr. Berkeley continued.

As part of the UK Government’s plans to highlight the best quality of British produce through labelling, the Environment Secretary has announced that it will be ‘increasing how we can better highlight imports that do not meet UK welfare standards and provide country of origin information online’. We can improve and do more promotional work to ensure Union Jack labels on supermarket displays match the products on the shelves.”

As part of the consultation, concerns will be considered, including pork raised overseas to lower welfare standards, then processed in the UK and served to British shoppers in supermarkets.

The UK government has announced that it will consider whether existing country of origin labeling rules can be strengthened by requiring how and where country of origin information is displayed, as part of a plan for clearer labeling. This will include considering whether first-in-country origin labeling allows farmers to be “fairly rewarded for meeting, and in some cases exceeding, the UK’s high welfare standards”.

But it’s not just British consumers that Barclay believes this labeling change will appeal to; in fact, he said: “This has received a massive vote of confidence from consumers around the world and has actually given the UK The export value is approximately $24 billion.” British Economy”.

From the beginning of 2024, all GI products manufactured and sold in the UK will use the UK GI logo. This is said by the Environment Secretary to “protect the geographical names of food and drink”.

“British producers will now be able to use the logo on products sold overseas, making your products even more visible at home and abroad.”

A recent announcement by the Environment Secretary hints at potential benefits for UK farmers. The proposed clearer labeling efforts could provide more transparency to consumers and help farmers demonstrate their commitment to high animal welfare and environmental standards. Berkeley’s emphasis on building trust between farmers and government shows a desire for co-operation and understanding, with the Environment Secretary saying it would “better reflect the high standards of British farmers and empower consumers”. He concluded his speech by sharing his desire to expand our policies by leveraging public sector procurement. Export potential”.

“We want to ensure that governments and regulatory bodies are more responsive to the diverse needs of our customers. It reflects that you are a steward of the land you value. More money, more More choices, more trust. This is my approach to putting farmers at the center of government policy and working with you as part of a common effort to boost food production and economic growth.” concluded.

Click here to read Mr Barclay’s full speech at the Oxford Agriculture Conference.

Get the latest information new food We will be investigating how UK farmers have reacted to the announcement in the coming weeks.

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