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Small and Medium-sized Food Producers

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – in the House of Commons on 6th February 2020.

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Photo of Alicia Kearns Alicia Kearns Conservative, Rutland and Melton

What recent discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on supporting small and medium-sized food producer businesses.

Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Secretary of State holds regular discussions with Cabinet colleagues on the Government’s work to help small and medium- sized enterprises. Food and drink is the UK’s largest manufacturing industry—bigger than automotive and aerospace combined. It is worth more than £100 billion per year and is geographically dispersed, which means it brings wealth to every corner of our nation.

Photo of Alicia Kearns Alicia Kearns Conservative, Rutland and Melton

What discussions has the Minister had with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to ensure that local British foods, which are some of the finest in the world, continue to benefit from a fair, competitive and transparent food supply chain post-Brexit?

Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

My hon. Friend makes an important point. Every Member will have examples of successful local food manufacturers. In her constituency, we have of course Samworth Brothers, a highly successful large business, and many other smaller enterprises. I congratulate her on having secured for her area the status of designated manufacturing zone. Government procurement rules encourage the local sourcing of food, and the requirements of some protected food name designations will also require food to be sourced locally.

Photo of Brendan O'Hara Brendan O'Hara Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Inclusive Society)

What is the Department doing, and what discussions has it had, about giving support to those small independent shellfish producers on the west coast of Scotland who, because of Brexit, are about to be put at a huge competitive disadvantage to their Northern Irish neighbours?

Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I hold regular meetings with the shellfish industry. As the hon. Gentleman will know, my constituency is in Cornwall, where we have a large crab and scallop industry. The political declaration on our future relationship with the EU envisages zero-zero tariffs on all goods.

Photo of Martin Vickers Martin Vickers Conservative, Cleethorpes

Last week, the Secretary of State followed in the Minister’s footsteps, visiting Cleethorpes and the neighbouring constituency of Grimsby, where she saw some of the fine seafood processors there. Can I urge her and the Minister to continue the support for that industry and to give it an absolute assurance that fish supplies will continue without any hitch?

Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I very much enjoyed my visit to the seafood village in my hon. Friend’s constituency, and I look forward to visiting that area and Grimsby more generally again in the future. Our fishing industry will have many opportunities as we leave the European Union and depart from relative stability, but for our fish processors in constituencies such as his it is also important that we continue the flow of trade from countries such as Iceland and Norway.