Conservative peer and ex-MP Anne McIntosh has called for an increase in AHDB levies to fund a post-Brexit export drive.
Baroness McIntosh, who was chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee and a Shadow Defra Minister during her time as Thirsk and Malton MP, made the remarks during a Countryside Alliance (CA) event at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham this week.
Last month, Defra announced it would be holding a wide-ranging consultation into the future of AHDB, which included exploring the possibility of abolishing statutory levies.
But Baroness McIntosh told the CA event a 94 per cent increase in British food exports to China between 2015 and 2017 was due to the fact that AHDB had an agricultural attaché in place over there.
“We have seen pigs’ trotters being exported from the Malton Bacon Factory, and across the piece,” she said.
“I am slightly concerned there may be the potential of reducing the levy through the review the department is conducting of the AHDB.
“I was very impressed when I went over with members of the select committee to Denmark. If you look at the marketing and the co-operative model the Danes use, they are punching way above their weight in terms of exports from a country with a 6 million head count.
“We are 60 million. We are catching them up, but we are still way behind and I think if anything, the levy needs to be increased.
“It may be not what every farmer wants to hear, but we need to have an in-house specialist or an agricultural attaché in our key market places.”