In this exclusive FoodManufacture.co.uk video interview, Paterson dismissed suggestions that the interests of food and drink manufacturers – particularly small and medium-scale enterprises – lost out to the lobbying power of big business agriculture.
“No one has ever raised that question before, because agriculture and food are inextricably linked,” said Paterson.
‘Totally false distinction’
“It’s a totally false distinction – the two have to work together. And I think it is quite right that our department does its best to help farming but also does its best to promote UK food.”
Speaking last week, before leading the largest ever group of food and drink manufacturers to Moscow this week, Paterson pledged to hold discussions with Russian officials aimed at opening up the market to wide scale beef and lamb exports. Such exports could be worth more than £100M over three years.
Some industry commentators have suggested in the past that food and drink manufacturers might receive more attention if the sponsor government department was the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills rather than DEFRA.
In the second part of our video interview, Paterson warned EU food regulations were "too trusting".