John Wood
The Prime Minister is still taking a close personal interest in work on the government's Strategy for Sustainable Farming and Food, according to Sir Don Curry, who is chairing the Implementation Group overseeing it.
At a review of its work six months after the Implementation Group was formed, Sir Don said Tony Blair had maintained his interest after meeting industry leaders at Downing Street last year despite having other recent issues which had dominated his agenda.
He said: "He [Blair] has personally continued to take a keen interest in the progress of this strategy.
"He has real concerns about the farming industry and the countryside and he is receiving regular reports from my group on how we are progressing. We are working closely with Downing Street and the Treasury on this and he is pleased with the progress we are making."
Sir Don also confirmed that he had met Blair personally to brief him on progress.
In his review Sir Don said there had been significant progress with the establishment of English Food and Farming Partnerships and the Food Chain Centre, and government funds had been secured for Assured Food Standards which will oversee the red tractor.
However, he added: "One area I would like to see more progress is in the production and processing of healthier food as part of our efforts to improve public nutrition and health.
"This strategy will succeed only if delivered in partnership, and industry itself, especially at local level, must rise to the challenge."
He also called on the industry, and retailers in particular, to give greater support in developing awareness of the red tractor label. He said: "We are not asking retailers to spend millions more but to include the red tractor on their labels where they can guarantee traceability."

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