Tory party leader David Cameron gave conference-goers a pledge to form policies for the long-term future benefit of both conventional and organic farming.
Speaking at a reception to mark the 60th anniversary of the Soil Association Mr Cameron said that he wanted the Conservative Party, like the Soil Association, “to look at farming and the environment in the round rather than in separate boxes”.
“We need a balanced approach, with thriving agriculture, ensuring that both organic and traditional farming methods play their part,” he said.
Mr Cameron – who is the first party leader to address a Soil Association conference – highlighted the depression in UK agriculture.
“Policy makers must address the crisis in farming.
I want a living working countryside not a museum.
I want to see sustainable agriculture and a good environment.
“There is a growing interest in what we eat and how it is grown, what it does to us and what it does to the environment and what we should be doing about it,” Mr Cameron said.
He called on farmers to grow more organic food.
“We need to close the gap on imported organic food.
We need British farming to take up the challenge and supply this.
This he said must go hand in hand with better labelling of produce.
“Labelling must be tackled it is wrong that imported food can masquerade as British.”
Mr Cameron’s first step towards forming a new policy was to announce that he had set up a quality of life policy group.
Headed by millionaire green campaigner Zac Goldsmith, and former agriculture minister John Gummer, the group will look at environmental, transport, housing and farming issues with a view to forming a coherent policy.
Mr Cameron signalled that the group would be carefully considering biofuels as one way of reducing pollution from cars.