The UK domestic agricultural sector makes an important contribution to the diversity of safe and nutritious food we enjoy, and will need to continue to respond to changes in global markets for food. The Government believe UK agriculture should produce as much food as possible, provided this can be done sustainably and is driven by consumer demand.
Primary responsibility for action to improve competitiveness rests—as in other sectors of the economy—with the sector itself. Government's principal role in this area is encouraging and enabling to ensure we have a thriving and sustainable agri-food sector. We are encouraging more resource efficient and environmentally sustainable agriculture by: providing guidance on nutrient management (Code of Good Agricultural Practice, issued January 2009); reducing water pollution (Catchment Sensitive Farming Programme and NVZs); and environmental stewardship schemes.
The Government are also helping rural businesses through the economic downturn by raising the funding limit on grants to 100 per cent for projects under the Rural Development Plan for England (RDPE). We are encouraging co-operation in production and marketing— for example, the Pigmeat Supply Chain Taskforce—and we are taking regulatory burdens seriously and arguing strongly against those we view as unnecessary or inappropriate with our European partners. And we are continuing our commitment to ensuring the right research and development strategy is in place across a wide range of areas, including the environmental impacts of local and seasonal foods; the water impacts of our food supply; and the integrating water quality, ecology and production at farm and catchment scale.