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Extracts from David Cameron's speech to the Oxford Farming Conference - January 3 2007.

"Everyone now understands the importance of combating climate change. Farmers have a huge role to play in this and other environmental challenges. The new products and new markets are genuinely exciting.

I saw many of them at this year's Royal Show.

  • Wool for home insulation.
  • Willow coppicing providing fuel for local boilers.
  • Hemp turned into breeze blocks.
  • There's also significant scope to grow energy crops to make bio-diesel and bio-ethanol and produce biomass for heat and power.

    Fuel crops have the potential to help meet our environmental objectives, help provide energy security and help provide our farmers with a new source of income.
    That's a pretty impressive treble.

    We shouldn't get carried away.

    So far it's been tough to make profits in these markets. And, as sceptics point out, not every farmer can go down this path and, even if they did, we wouldn't solve all our environmental or security problems.

    But these are new markets. And they are an important part of the future. And a Conservative Government would do all that it could to remove the obstacles to their development, including looking at the incentives provided by the tax system.

    I'm convinced that the long term interest of British farming is best served by British consumers demanding quality British produce. A vital part of facilitating this shift in priorities is ensuring that this country has far more rigorous and transparent food labelling.

    Today British consumers can find it difficult to back British farmers, because of inadequate labelling. Food can be imported to Britain, processed here, and subsequently labelled in a way that suggests it's genuinely British. That is completely wrong.
    I cannot overstate the importance of enabling informed consumer choice.
    Effective marketing can only be achieved if labelling is accurate and clear. Britain is experiencing a rise in so-called food patriotism. Many people want to eat British wherever possible. They're not just supporting British farmers out of a sense of solidarity or a desire to limit carbon emissions. They also realise that food that has been preserved and flown or driven long distances often tastes second rate. I know that this may raise issues with the European Union. But the role of a Government that cares about British farming is not to sit on its hands and say " there's nothing we can do" , but instead to test these rules and if necessary challenge and change them. In any case, we will take a leaf out of the book of other EU members who have stood up more effectively for their local producers.

    The same principle of active consumerism is driving the increasing popularity of locally sourced produce.

    In the 21st century people are interested in general well being. The food that they eat and feed to their families is part of that. Farmers Weekly has been running an excellent campaign - " Local Food is Miles Better"  and organisations like the Slow Food movement are gaining new adherents. New businesses are springing up to meet the demand."