Michael Gove says he is committed to ensuring that British farmers will continue to have access to glyphosate to remain productive.
Speaking at the Farmers Weekly Awards at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on Thursday night (6 October), the Defra secretary told farmers he would be committed to supporting them on Brexit.
“I know that as we leave the European Union, there are questions on your minds. Will we continue to have access to all the labour that we need? I am committed to making sure that we will,” said Mr Gove.
See also: Read all the news on the 2017 FW Awards
“Will we continue to have access to the European markets that we so much depend on – particularly, of course, for lamb and other livestock producers? Absolutely. I’m committed to making sure that we continue to have access to EU markets, even as we explore new markets.”
A decision over whether to relicense glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller brand, has been causing controversy amid concerns about its safety. The EU is set to decide whether to relicense glyphosate for a further 10 years before the end of 2017.
Mr Gove added: “The materials that you need in order to remain productive – whether it’s glyphosate or investment in new technology. Will it be there to support you? Yes, I am committed to trying to ensure that it absolutely will be.”
In a wide-ranging speech, which was well received by the audience of more than 1,000 people, Mr Gove said he wanted to ensure that once the UK leaves the European Union, British agriculture is left in a stronger state than ever before.
On behalf of the government, he thanked farmers for all the hard work they do in producing our high-quality food and making sure the countryside “remains vibrant, active, working and beautiful”.
“As we approach the critical negotiations and as we contemplate life outside the European Union, we are looking at celebrating the very best of our country and making sure that we can paint on a broader canvas a story of success,” said Mr Gove.
“And essential to that story of success is the work that you do. We have, I think, the best farmers in the world and we certainly produce the best food in the world.”
Mr Gove said he did not want British farmers to compete on the basis of bulk, but on the basis of quality. He described our farmers as “world beaters” in the quality of our produce and therefore “we have a world to win”.
“Wherever we look, people across the world want quality. They look for provenance,” he added.
“They want to know that the journey from farm to fork has been characterised by care, attention to the highest standards and a belief in providing the consumer with the very, very best.”
Gyles Brandreth hosted the annual awards ceremony, now in its 13th year. The broadcaster and former Conservative MP had the audience in stitches throughout the evening.
Other highlights included a breathtaking performance from aerial act Cirque du Foret and live music from The Lionels.
— Andrew Ward (@wheat_daddy) October 5, 2017