Defra Agri-Food e-bulletin

This Defra Agri-Food e-bulletin contains information related to Covid-19, the 2020 Budget, Agricultural updates, EU FTA negotiation update, US lifts beef ban and trade exports and import statistics

Defra continue to work closely with the food and drink industry to monitor the situation and its impact across the food supply chain. They are in frequent contact with the leading food retailers so that they can continue to keep food supplies flowing and are lending our full support to the industry as it responds to increased demand. This includes introducing new measures such as extending delivery hours to supermarkets to allow a higher frequency of deliveries to stores ensuring shelves are being replenished more quickly.

Please find the Defra press release here.
 As Defra continues to work with industry to respond to these and other challenges, they encourage businesses to stay up-to-date on the latest Covid-19 advice by visiting the guidance online here and sign up for updates straight to your inbox here. This information is being regularly updated and we will also continue to provide information and updates.
BEIS are issuing a regular bulletin for trade associations, business representative bodies and business intermediaries which provides important information for you and your business members and networks on Coronavirus (COVID-19) through the Corona virus Bulletin. If you would like to sign up to the BEIS bulletin please email
New home delivery guidance for local shops
New guidance has been issued (Wednesday 18 March) by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) on how to carry out local grocery deliveries to support people self-isolating.
The guidance explains what regulations apply to those thinking of making home deliveries, and provides simple advice on conducting deliveries in a way that best promotes good hygiene and limits the risk of passing on Covid-19 and other viruses when doing so.
You can download the guidance here.
Free School Meals
The Government yesterday (Thursday 19 March) published guidance for schools giving them the flexibility to provide meals or shop vouchers to the children entitled to free school meals.
Schools will be able to provide meals or vouchers for supermarkets or local shops, which can be sent directly to families who are either self-isolating at home or whose schools are closed on government advice.
Please find more information here.
Competition Law changes
In response to the current situation and following requests from retailers. The Government will lay legislation next week relaxing elements of competition laws temporarily so retailers can work together on their contingency plans and share the resources they need during this period.
This will be a specific, temporary relaxation to Competition Law to enable retailers to work together for the sole purpose of feeding the nation during these unprecedented circumstances.
Please find more information here.
Temporary relaxation of the enforcement of EU drivers’ hours rules
Temporary relaxation of the enforcement of the drivers’ hours rules starting from 00:01 on 18 March 2020 and ending 11:59pm on 16 April 2020.
This relaxation applies solely to drivers involved in the supply of food and other essential products to supermarkets. This includes the movement of such goods from importers, manufactures and suppliers to distribution centres. It does not apply to drivers undertaking deliveries directly to consumers. Please find more information here.
Key workers
DfE and Cabinet Office guidance has been published on key workers for COVID-19. If your work is critical to the COVID-19 response, or you work in one of the critical sectors listed below, and you cannot keep your child safe at home then your children will be prioritised for education provision:
  • Health and social care
  • Education and childcare
  • Key public services
  • Local and National government
  • Food and other necessary goods
  • Public safety and national security
  • Transport
  • Utilities, communication and financial services
For more information please see the guidance page here. There is further guidance available here.

2020 Budget

Please find the key highlights from the 2020 Budget announcement here.
The Budget 2020 speech as delivered by Chancellor Rishi Sunak can be found here.
More information about the package of measures announced at Budget 2020 to support public services, individuals and businesses affected by Covid-19 can be found here.

Three crop rule relaxed and help for farmers recovering from flooding

The government has announced today a £6m fund to help farmers recover from flooding, and a relaxation of the "three crop rule" for 2020. Full details are available in this press release.

Timeline of agricultural changes in 2020

As the UK prepares to move away from the Common Agricultural Policy, Defra’s Future Farming team have created a Timeline for changes to agriculture which will take place over the next eight years.
Please share the attached PDF with your members and supply chain associates.

Consultation outcome - reforming agricultural tenancies in England

The Government has consulted on plans for reforming agricultural tenancy law in England. These changes will make agricultural tenancies fit for the future allowing tenants and landlords to adapt to changes such as accessing new schemes. Please find the summary of responses as well as the Government response here and the press release here.

EU FTA negotiations update

Negotiators from the UK and EU met in Brussels on 2-5 March 2020 for the first round of negotiations. The UK’s chief negotiator is David Frost and Michel Barnier leads negotiations for the European Commission. Discussions focussed on areas of commonality and where there are likely to be significant differences. The next negotiation round was planned to take place in London on 18-20 March but due to COVID 19, both sides are currently exploring other ways to continue discussions. Please find the written statement from the first round of negotiations here
Given the latest COVID-19 developments, UK and EU negotiators have today jointly decided not to hold this week’s round of negotiations in London, in the form originally scheduled.
Both sides are currently exploring alternative ways to continue discussions, including if possible the use of video conferences.

US to lift beef ban

Following a three-week inspection last summer, the US has recently agreed equivalence of standards on the UK’s disease control measures. This means British beef could soon be sold in the US creating £66 million worth of export opportunities for British farmers over the next five years. The government is expecting to start negotiating a UK-US free trade agreement by the end of this month which will create more opportunities for British businesses. Please find more information here.

New AHDB chair announced

Last week, the Government appointed Nicholas Saphir as the new Chair of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) with effect from 1 April 2020 for a three-year term.
This is a Ministerial appointment, made by the Secretary of State for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which has been approved by Ministers in the Scottish Government and Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive.
The press release can be found on GOV.UK here.

Trade, imports and exports

Figures reported by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) show the UK exported £23.6bn of high-quality food and drink in 2019, representing a real-terms increase of 2.5% from 2018. Whisky remains the UK’s largest food and drink export (having risen to just over £5bn), with salmon, barley and wheat having seen the most significant absolute rises in export value in 2019. Exports grew in six out of the UK’s ten leading export markets, with exports to non-EU countries growing by 7.1%. More information can be found here.
Top 10 markets by value for UK food and drink exports 2019   Top 10 UK food and drink exports by value 2019
Country Value (£m) % of total UK food and drink exports   Products Value (£m) % of total UK food and drink exports
Irish Republic 3,955 16.8%   Whisky 5,030 21.4%
USA 2,384 10.1%   Misc. food ingredients 1,665 7.1%
France 2,289 9.7%   Salmon inc. smoked 822 3.5%
Netherlands 1,702 7.2%   Chocolate 739 3.1%
Germany 1,446 6.1%   Cheese 708 3.0%
Spain 1,058 4.5%   Gin and Geneva 675 2.9%
China 780 3.3%   Cereal, rolled or flaked 662 2.8%
Belgium 693 2.9%   Wine 655 2.8%
Italy 585 2.5%   Fish excl. salmon and shellfish 622 2.6%
Australia 453 1.9%   Other animal feeding stuffs 598 2.5%

Back to news

We use cookies on this site to improve your experience. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You will only see this message once. Find out more