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.

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."