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British food and drink exports grow to 'nearly £19bn'

The UK's food and drink exports have defied the recession and grown to nearly £19 billion, the farming minister is expected to claim.

In a speech to the National Farmers' Union (NFU) George Eustice will claim the 112 new export markets opened up last year have lead to nearly a £180 million increase in the amount of food and drink exported to non-EU countries.

George Eustice
Farming minister George Eustice will claim British farming has grown despite the 2008 crash. Credit: PA

Government action to cut red tape, changes to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) right, encouraging innovation, safeguarding plant and animal health have all helped growth, Mr Eustice will say.

In a preview snippet of his speech, Mr Eustice said: "Our long-term economic plan builds a stronger, more competitive, economy and secures a better future for Britain by helping spread growth and prosperity all over our country.

"For years, the rural economy and farms were ignored. Today, the Government is doing everything it can to support them. And that means more jobs, more opportunities and more financial security for hard working people."

Read: Cost of flooding in the UK could reach £500 million

Public asked to pick Britain's sexiest farmers

Lloyd Duke, 23, owns a 300 acre dairy farm and plays rugby for the Cornish All Blacks Credit: Farmer's Weekly

Five women and five men have been shortlisted for this year's sexiest farmers.

The finalists were chosen from 300 entrants to the competition run by Farmer’s Weekly magazine.

The 10 range from 18-year-old Racheal Churches, whose parents say she is “up for anything including welding, milking and especially tractor-driving”, to Judi James, a single mother aged 53 who owns a veal business in Dorset.

Kate Lywood, 25, is a herd manager for 300 Spring calving cows on her family's farm in Sussex Credit: Farmer's Weekly

Tim Relf, community editor of Farmer’s Weekly, said: “The competition will help dispel the myth that farmers are old-fashioned and scruffy and encourage more young people to consider careers in this exciting, innovative and high-tech sector.”

You can vote online for your favourite to win Britain’s Sexiest Farmer here

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NFU: Farmed beef is sustainable

The National Farmers' Union has said that it believes that ordinary farmed beef is sustainable - something that some scientists disagree with.

Samples of a store-bought burger (L) next to a lab-produced one (C) Credit: Maastricht University

A spokesperson added: "Beef farmers are proud of their farming which delivers great tasting, sustainable food for British consumers while also offering significant benefits for the environment, landscape and the rural economy."

Livestock farmer: 'Things are undoubtedly tough'

Tim Jones, a livestock farmer from Worcestershire, told Daybreak that "things are undoubtedly tough" for farmers.

Farmer Tim Jones says things are "tough" at the moment.

He said a harsh winter has been followed by a run of dry weather, which has left livestock farmers like him, "desperately short of grass" for the sheep.

"Input costs have gone up, with animal feed now 18% more expensive than it was 12 months ago", he added.

Wheat crops 'written off' because of bad weather

Food prices are likely to rise after UK farmers reported a poor harvest due to the rainy summer.

Today Environment Secretary Owen Paterson will address farming representatives at a summit which will discuss ways of improving farmers' access to financial support.

The NFU's March 2013 cereals update showed:

  • A decline in winter wheat of around 12%, with some crops written off, the crop will rely on good growing conditions from now on
  • Demand of winter barley and oats has declined, and planting has suffered, winter oats could in stead be replaced by spring oats
  • A quarter of oilseed rape is in a "very poor condition"

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Could the British weather be getting wetter?

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson will host a summit for farming representatives, charities and banks to discuss the effects of last year's bad weather on the industry.

Following the second wettest year since records began, farmers have warned that heavy rainfall could affect the price of food.

Long-term averages of 30-year periods show an increase in annual rainfall of about 5% from 1961-1990 to 1981-2010:

  • 1961-1990: 1100.6mm
  • 1971-2000: 1126.1mm
  • 1981-2010: 1154.0mm

Source: Met Office

Owen Paterson: We should be proud of our farmers

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said the UK should be "proud" of the "fantastic" job farmers do.

He will hold a summit today to discuss the financial worries of many farmers after a year of bad weather.

Read: Weetabix cereal production hit by poor harvest

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

He added: "This last year has been particularly tough. Farming contributes a huge amount to our environment and our economy.

"We want to ensure that farmers are able to deal with challenges like bad weather, to grow their businesses, create new jobs and help the country compete in the global race."

Read: Poor weather affects the summer harvest

Minister hosts summit to help farmers after 'tough' year

A landmark summit will be held by Environment Secretary Owen Paterson to help farmers after a "particularly tough" year.

Read: Farmers warn wet weather will push up food prices

A vehicle manages to get across the flooded Somerset Levels during heavy rain last year Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Banks, charities and farming representatives will attend the meeting at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Ways of improving farmers' access to financial support after a year of bad weather will be discussed.

Read: Wet weather misery sweeps the UK

Cold snap farm animals death toll tops 29,000

Almost 29,000 farm animals died following recent cold weather in Northern Ireland, it was revealed today.

Massive snow drifts in parts of counties Down and Antrim left sheep stranded in remote areas and British and Irish relief helicopters were brought in to air lift feed.

Sheep huddle together in the hills above the Glens of Antrim, Northern Ireland. Credit: PA

Stormont Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill said 28,437 fallen animals had been collected.

Some of the worst snow to affect the rural community for years fell at the end of March and the ground remained treacherous well into April.

A sheep in the hills above the Glens of Antrim, Northern Ireland. Credit: PA

The Agriculture Minister intends to bring to the Stormont ministerial Executive proposals for a hardship scheme.

This will be capped at a maximum of 7,500 euro (£6,320) per farmer, including the collection and disposal costs of the fallen animals.

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