Food minister Lord Whitty has hinted that DEFRA is unlikely to get the extra funding it would require to implement the key recommendations of Sir Don Curry's report into the future of farming and food. Speaking at a conference organised by Heart of England Fine Foods, Lord Whitty pointed out that the "old MAFF part of DEFRA" had spent all of the Treasury's reserves last year in tackling the country's foot and mouth crisis. Like all ministries, DEFRA is heavily involved in the Treasury's spending review. But based on his comments during a question and answer session, Lord Whitty's message to the audience was that DEFRA would find it tough getting more cash this year. The minister also ruled out the likelihood of any direct funding for the country's regional food groups. He praised the work done by groups such as Heart of England but said the groups would have to do more to develop a "total image as a food producing region". However, that would not mean any core funding. "I understand the concern but there's a European problem here. It would run up against state aid issues if we were effectively funding the promotion of British products against other EU products." However, Lord Whitty said that there was scope for the groups to apply for funding for specific, long term projects. "It may seem illogical to keep putting in project requests but it is difficult to do anything else," he said. The minister's comments came at the end of a speech in which he reiterated DEFRA's view that government should change from being a subsidiser to a supportive sponsor of the farming and food sectors. {{NEWS }}