Consumers should buy British fruit and veg to boost the economy, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson was due to tell the Oxford Farming Conference yesterday.
The Defra boss was scheduled to say that a quarter of the food eaten in the UK was imported, when it could be produced here.
He was expected to say: “As British farmers and food producers you know that we grow some of the best food in the world here – so why is 24% of the food eaten in the UK imported when it could be produced here?
“We have a top-class fruit and veg sector which produces everything from green beans to strawberries, yet we imported £8 billion of fruit and veg in 2012.
“We can’t grow mangoes or pineapples, but we can encourage UK consumers and food businesses to buy Scottish raspberries or Kent apples.
“This is a huge opportunity, and it’s up to all of us – farmers, food manufacturers and the Government – to take action. By buying seasonal fruit and veg we can improve the nation’s health, help the environment and boost the economy.”
Mr Paterson was also due to say that changes to livestock movement rules would save farmers and taxpayers £70m over 10 years, and that cuts to red tape would make it easier for farming businesses to flourish and improve the ability to prevent and control the spread of diseases such as bovine TB.
The changes follow recommendations made by The Task Force on Farming Regulation and will be introduced from 2016.