She opened the event telling representatives that she was determined that dairy producers remain world leaders in the market.
“British agriculture, especially our dairy producers, are vital to the UK economy. Last year dairy exporters sold £1.4bn of goods to markets around the world and the work we are doing to strike new trade deals and reduce market access barriers will only see that figure rise further,” she said.
“The UK’s reputation is one of high standards, environmental protections and quality goods and I am determined to ensure we remain world leaders in the dairy market. When more farmers trade and export, it means more jobs, higher wages and a stronger economy.”
The NFU has brought together key dairy industry producers, processors and exporters to discuss how the sector can build on ambitious plans to double the value of British dairy exports over the next 10 years.
The event which was held jointly with the Department for International Trade, follows the launch last year of the NFU’s Dairy Export Strategy. That document set out a raft of actions and recommendations to enhance the industry’s export performance and sell more great British dairy products overseas.
NFU deputy president Tom Bradshaw said: “British dairy is a success story. It’s an ambitious and innovative sector, producing food such as milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter to some of the world’s highest environmental and animal welfare standards.
“It was great to have the Trade Secretary join us at the conference as the dairy sector wants to work with government to double our dairy exports over the next 10 years. This requires commitment and resource from government, in partnership with industry, to enable this growth.
“With further government investment to boost on-going market development work and to increase the number of agriculture attachés around the world, the industry can then take advantage of this work to boost our dairy exports and help set a global standard when it comes to sustainable climate-friendly dairy products.”
NFU dairy board chair Michael Oakes added: “The Summit provided a great sounding board for producers, processors and exporters to highlight some of the challenges faced and identify opportunities to help accelerate our growth in exports.
“Over the past few years we have developed a fantastic reputation around the world for quality and already export nearly £2bn worth of dairy products to more than 135 countries across Europe, North America, Asia and the Middle East.
“If the UK dairy sector wants to be a major player in global trade and find new emerging markets, and add value to the sector, now is the time to drive our exports and capitalise on the tremendous global support that already exists for great British dairy products.”
Meanwhile, MPs from across all political parties showed their support for British food and farming by wearing the iconic wheatsheaf pin badge in Westminster and during Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) this week.
The NFU also held a reception in the Houses of Parliament which centred around winners of the new Community Farming Heroes award, who were nominated by MPs. The winners include farmers and growers who have gone the extra mile for their communities, including donating supplies to Ukraine and providing safe and supportive homes for vulnerable women and children. Some winners also used their farms as outdoor classrooms, while dozens have fundraised thousands of pounds for charities. They were presented their awards by Defra Secretary of State Thérèse Coffey and Farming Minister Mark Spencer.
NFU President Minette Batters said: “On Back British Farming Day it is hugely important to see so many MPs actively showing their support for farmers and growers, both in their constituencies and across the nation. British food and farming is worth more than £120 billion to the national economy and provides jobs for more than four million people. Driving this industry forward are farmers, people who not only produce high quality, environmentally and climate-friendly food, but who play a central role in our rural communities.”