Wales politics

David Cameron announces £7bn foods growth plan at Royal Welsh Show

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Media captionBBC Wales political editor Nick Servini spoke to Mr Cameron at the Royal Welsh Show

David Cameron has announced plans to grow food and farming exports by £7bn while visiting the Royal Welsh show in Powys.

The prime minster detailed the measures after arriving at the Builth Wells event on Thursday.

He revealed a series of proposals to "cut red tape" for English farmers.

The Welsh government rejected calls by Mr Cameron for it to "do more to simplify inspections" for farmers in Wales.

In a Downing Street statement, the prime minister said: "I am very pleased to be at the Royal Welsh Show today to see the best in livestock, food and drink Wales has to offer.

Sell more

"Farming and food production are a fundamental part of our rural economy.

"As a one nation government, we will keep on backing British farmers to grow and sell more home-grown food by liberating them from red tape and opening up new multi-million pound export markets."

There would be 20,000 fewer farm inspections and a new single farm inspection taskforce is to be created by summer 2016, the prime minister added.

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Media captionMr Cameron told the Royal Welsh Show red tape would be cut for English farmers
Image caption David Cameron said some Welsh foods would benefit from new protection

There would be a "streamlining" of the current regime, which sees seven regulators carrying out more than 125,000 inspections a year in England.

But the changes would not affect the way inspections are carried out in Wales.

Mr Cameron said: "I hope that the Welsh government also looks to do more to simplify inspections to benefit the industry and rural communities."

A new food innovation network would also give more than 400 Welsh food businesses - and 8,000 in total - "access to the latest research"

The number of protected British foods is to be increased from 63 to 200, under the plans.

Record levels

Carmarthen Ham and Welsh Laverbread are among those expected to receive protected status later this summer, the prime minister said.

He said the status had helped create new jobs in Anglesey and "booming exports of Welsh lamb."

Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said: "We are supporting the industry to drive up exports to record levels so more of our fantastic British food and drink is on supermarket shelves, and in bars and restaurants, from Beijing to Bogota."

Image caption The prime minister meets the makers of Anglesey's Halen Mon sea salt

Welsh secretary Stephen Crabb said the global appetite for Welsh produce "has never been stronger".

A Welsh government spokesperson said it was "already simplifying enforcement and tackling administrative burdens for farmers" through a series of measures, such as its Working Smarter and digital delivery programmes.

"We are also actively simplifying the framework for environmental regulation through a new bill, and have already brought together our three former environment regulatory bodies into one organisation - Natural Resources Wales," they added.

After arriving at the show, Mr Cameron visited the food hall and met representatives from Anglesey sea salt company Halen Mon, before sampling curry and seaweed.

He also toured the showground, where stopped to see pedigree sheep and shire horses set to compete in the main ring, and watched a pole-climbing competition at the forestry section.

The prime minister also took the opportunity to issue a direct appeal to car makers Aston Martin to consider building their new luxury SUVs in Wales.

Earlier, he released details of a £390m contract which will see Caerphilly county-based General Dynamics take over a former fork-lift site in Merthyr Tydfil.

It follows a deal to buy 589 Scout Specialist Vehicles and will create 250 highly skilled jobs.

Image copyright General Dynamics
Image caption The former fork-lift site in Merthyr Tydfil is the size of five football pitches

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