Defra 2020 strategy aims for biosecurity and exports

Defra's strategy to 2020 has been published with a promise to support more food exports, a healthier environment, better protection from animal and plant disease and improved international outcomes on trade, environment, food and water security.

Defra has four "cross-cutting themes" which describe how it will support these objectives and create wider benefits. They are better delivery, better productivity, less red tape and more exports. Exports were £18bn in 2015.

The department says it will plant 11 million trees, have more British food sold at home and abroad, open markets abroad and public sector procurement at home, treble the number of apprenticeship starts in food and farming between 2014/15 and 2020 to 18,000 and make a 20,000 reduction in farm inspection visits.

Another plan is to "invest in animal and plant health science" and "spot and manage emerging threats in proportionate ways, working with national and international partners as needed".

Defra plans to protect 300,000 homes against floods and the UK against invasive species.

There is a 17 per cent gap between UK and average G7 productivity, which Defra wants to address.  It also says it wants to cut £470m of red tape burden.

Defra accepted 15 per cent day-to-day budget cuts over the next four years in autumn 2015. RSPB and Wildlife Trust economists say cuts to environment department equal 57 per cent in real terms over the course of two parliaments.

The department is also developing a 25 year food and farming plan which NFU president Meurig Raymond told the NFU conference must address the fundamental issues of productivity and competitiveness. 

"Resilience and competitiveness are central to sustainable, profitable farm businesses. It’s crucial that Defra’s plan ensures British farmers have access to the same agri-tech developments as its competitors - like world-class plant protection products and novel breeding techniques. 

"The implications of the introduction of a National Living Wage will be catastrophic for our horticultural sector. Our assessments have shown that it has the potential to make fruit and vegetable growers unprofitable in just three years. We aren’t against a living wage in principle but it must be sustainable for businesses and workers.

"We must see in this plan a properly functioning supply chain which is fair and shares both risk and reward. One where consumers are able to see clearly marketed British food and buy British because of the quality and values that underlie our production.

"We must see a commitment to grow our self-sufficiency in food. The UK has the fastest growing population in Europe – we must be able to feed the nation domestically and reduce the reliance on imported food.

"Being 62 per cent self-sufficient is not something we should settle for and the projected decline to 53 per cent by 2040 is not an option for the sector. The future should see our industry reach its productive potential and Defra’s plan has the power to enable farmers to do just that. The plan must back the future of British farming."   


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