Coffey: ‘UK and US must stand together and forge a more secure future for agriculture’

Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey. Picture by Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street

Britain’s Environment Secretary to deliver a speech to Departments of Agriculture chiefs from all 50 US States.

Thérèse Coffey will call on both the UK and US to continue to stand together to a forge a more secure and sustainable future for agriculture.

In a speech at the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) Winter Conference in Washington DC later today (15 February), the Environment Secretary will outline how UK and US co-operation is vital to promote sustainable food production and global food security and will pay tribute to the farmers of Ukraine.

NASDA plays a crucial role in US agriculture, with representatives from the Departments of Agriculture in all 50 States and four US territories. The speech will be the first time a foreign minister has addressed the conference – demonstrating the strength of UK and US collaboration on sustainable agriculture, food security and improving nature and biodiversity.

This follows the recent launch of the Government’s Environmental Improvement Plan – the five year delivery plan to halt and reverse the decline in nature. The Environment Secretary is expected to highlight how ensuring nature and food production go hand-in-hand is a vital, shared goal between the two countries, with both developing landmark reforms to incentivise and reward environmental stewardship, while also harnessing new markets and tackling threats posed to food security by climate change.

Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey is expected to say:

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.

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 will also pay tribute to farmers in the breadbasket of Europe, Ukraine, for their efforts in continuing to promote food security across the globe, and will outline the UK’s continued support to Ukraine.

Thérèse Coffey is expected to add:

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.

During her trip to the US, the Environment Secretary also met with US government officials, Senators, and CEOs from agri-tech start-ups.

She also visited a brewery which makes craft beers from a combination of American and imported British ingredients, North Carolina State University’s new plant science facility and the Alexandria AgTech Innovation Centre.

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