Environment secretary Liz Truss made the claim at the Food and Drink Federation’s (FDF’s) Annual Parliamentary Reception at the House of Commons yesterday (July 6). “People have got all sorts of reasons why the Conservatives won the election,” Truss told the rececption.
‘Why the Conservatives won the election’
“I think it was our commitments to food and drink. Not to mention the fact that we promised to triple the number of apprenticeships in the food and farming sector. We were the only party to make such specific manifesto commitments.”
Up to one in eight jobs in the British economy were linked to the food and farming industry, she said. “If you look at the amount of jobs the food chain contributes to this country ... that should be giving us all kinds of export opportunities, opportunities to grow more and buy more and sell more British food, which is what we had in our manifesto.”
Prime Minister David Cameron launched the Conservative Party manifesto in Swindon on Tuesday April 14 pledging to work with the British food and farming industry to devise a 25-year plan to “grow more, buy more and sell more British food”.
The manifesto promised: “We will promote British food abroad by setting up a Great British Food Unit to help trademark and promote local foods around the world.” See more details of the Conservatives’ manifesto promises on food in the box below.
More skilled young people
The environment secretary went on to highlight the need to attract more skilled young people into food and farming in order to fill the growing vacancies left by retiring workers.
Why the Tories won
“People have got all sorts of reasons why the Conservatives won the election. I think it was our commitments to food and drink.”
- Liz Truss, environment secretary
“Getting more young people in [to the industry] and addressing that skills gap is really important. We are seeing a new generation of fantastic new businesses … and a new generation of fantastic new companies – the food stars, which we launched earlier this year.”
The government wanted to build on that launch to encourage the small and medium-sized food and drink enterprises to start exporting and “to scale up” their operations.
Food and drink exports – particularly to emerging economies – were a major opportunity. “By 2018, China will be the world’s largest importer of food,” said Truss. “We’ve already got some food out there. Scotch whisky is doing well and the pork industry is doing well.”
The government planned to establish a network of food counselors worldwide to support British exporters, said the minister.
Conservatives’ food manifesto promises
- Launch a 25-year plan to “grow more, buy more and sell more British food”
- Promote British food exports by establishing a Great British Food Unit “to help trademark and promote local foods around the world”
- Help consumers buy British by pushing for country of origin labelling in Europe, “particularly for dairy products, following on from our success with beef, lamb, pork and poultry”
- Promise to “champion” the Groceries Code Adjudicator
- Promises to cut red tape
- Implement a science-led approach to genetically modified crops and pesticides
- Implement strategy to eradicate bovine TB within 25 years
- Allow farmers to “smooth their profits for tax purposes over five years”, to combat income volatility
- Treble the number of apprenticeships in food, farming and agri-tech, “as part of our plan to secure three million more apprenticeships”
- Further reform of the Common Agricultural Policy “In the coming years, we will go further, helping our farmers, supporting British food around the world and opening up new export markets.”
Source: Conservative Party Election Manifesto