Farm minister Jim Paice has spoken of his determination to help restore farming and food production to its rightful place within in the British economy.
As part of Britain’s recovery from recession, farmers and the food industry had the potential to claw back at least some of the ground lost to food imports, he said.
At the same time, there was potential to extend food exports.
“A lot has been said about [the need to] rebalance the economy,” Mr Paice told a Tory Party conference fringe meeting in Birmingham on Monday (4 October).
“Although food production is probably – with maybe one exception that we won’t go into – the oldest profession in the world, it is still extremely important.”
The government could not set prices for agricultural produce, Mr Paice acknowledged.
But it did have a responsibility to create a business environment in which farming and food production could thrive.
“That is the basis of our approach and one that we all as ministers share.”
Mr Paice said that although the coalition government had only been in place for five months it had already decided to abolish the agricultural wages board, tackle bovine TB and reduce unnecessary red tape.
“I very much hope that over the coming months and years we can really start to put this industry back to where it belongs.”