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Defra Secretary: UK and US must boost sustainable farming together

The UK and the US must work closely together to promote sustainable agriculture and food production across the world, the Defra Secretary said in a speech in Washington DC.

Thérèse Coffey outlined yesterday (15 February) how UK and US co-operation is 'vital' to promoting sustainable farming and global food security.


The comments were part of a speech at the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) Winter Conference in Washington DC.


NASDA plays a major role in US agriculture, with representatives from the Departments of Agriculture in all 50 States and four US territories.


The Defra Secretary's speech was the first time a foreign minister has addressed the conference.


Ms Coffey highlighted how ensuring nature and food production go hand-in-hand is a shared goal between the two countries.


However, British farm leaders have frequently warned that the US's food and farming standards are significantly lower than the UK's.


For example, in the US, the use of antibiotics per animal in farming is on average 5 times higher than in the UK.


Ms Coffey said: “It is vitally important that we continue to stand together, in defence of the freedom, democracy, and common decency that our nations treasure so deeply.


"We must also continue to work together to forge a more secure, more sustainable future for agriculture.


"We must strengthen the resilience of our environment, our businesses, and our communities, and improve the prosperity and food security of every generation to come."


Ms Coffey added: “Farmers are the original friends of the earth, the first to understand that making space for nature can and must go alongside food production.


"This is not mutually exclusive, but absolutely symbiotic. Working with nature – not against it – is the natural instinct of every farmer I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.


“As we work together to promote sustainable food production, we need to commend the immense contribution farming makes to our communities, and the sheer grit, ingenuity and determination it takes to keep us fed.”


The Environment Secretary also paid tribute to farmers in Ukraine for their efforts in continuing to promote food security, and will outline the UK’s continued support to Ukraine.


Ms Coffey said: “Amidst the turmoil of war, it is truly extraordinary that the farmers of Ukraine have managed to get so much of the 2022 harvest in.


"At a time when Ukrainians themselves are suffering so much, the initiative to get grain from Ukraine, to some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world, is an act of global humanity at its very best.


“I was proud to send a contribution to support those efforts, on behalf of our government and our people, as I know the United States have done as well.


"This forms part of the wider support that we are sending to Ukraine, and the work that the UK has led through the G7 to help identify stolen grain and frustrate Russia’s efforts to profit from that theft.”


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