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Liz Truss has pledged to “unleash British food and farming” in order to improve the nation’s food security.
The Tory leadership hopeful said she would “remove onerous EU regulations and red tape” if she becomes prime minister, without going into much detail on which laws she would abolish.
She also promised to tackle the labour shortages in farming, partly caused by post-Brexit freedom of movement restrictions, with a short-term expansion to the seasonal workers scheme.
The pandemic and cost-of-living crisis have shown it is more vital than ever for us to ensure we have a high quality and affordable supply of British food
The programme, first launched in 2019, temporarily allows 40,000 overseas workers into the UK for seasonal roles in the horticulture and poultry sectors.
A recent Government report warned that labour shortages “caused by Brexit and accentuated by the pandemic” were badly affecting the food and farming sector, often forcing farmers to leave fruit rotting in the fields and cull healthy pigs.
Ms Truss said she would also work to address longer-term skills shortages and hurdles to the adoption of labour-saving technologies.
The former environment secretary vowed to replace EU law that restricts the development of farming infrastructure and technology, including agricultural drone use and precision breeding technologies.
— Liz for Leader (@trussliz) July 11, 2022
Ms Truss, who is due to meet farmers on a campaign stop in the south-west of England, said: “The pandemic and cost-of-living crisis have shown it is more vital than ever for us to ensure we have a high-quality and affordable supply of British food.
“As a former Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) secretary of state, I understand the challenges faced by farmers, and they can trust me to deliver the changes they need.
“I will cut the red tape that is holding them back and hitting them in their pocket”.
Meurig Raymond, former president of the National Farmers’ Union, said: “I share her vision of a competitive, profitable and sustainable farming sector underpinned by investment in the latest technology and innovation, and a proportionate and flexible approach to regulation”.
A video of Ms Truss during her time as environment secretary went viral when she gave an enthusiastic speech about opening pork markets during the 2014 Tory Party conference.
She caused further hilarity by saying that two-thirds of cheese sold in Britain was imported, with an unusually emphatic delivery of the line: “That is a disgrace”.