The food and drink industry has responded with alarm to indications that DEFRA secretary of state Margaret Beckett is looking at new ways of augmenting the ministry’s annual budget.

In a letter to Defra stakeholder groups, director of communications Lucian Hudson said the money allocated by the Treasury in July would not adequately cover all its priorities.

He continued: “We will be looking to make savings and, in areas where it is sensible to transfer cost burdens from the general taxpayer to the beneficiary, to bring new sources of revenue on stream.”

One senior industry source commented: “That seems pretty strong: Defra will be looking to the industry to shoulder some of its funding. The government tried something similar when it proposed a levy on the industry to part-fund the Food Standards Agency. Although we fought it off then, we might not be able to this time.

“If Defra goes ahead with this proposal, it may also set a precedent which could lead the government to renew its line on the FSA.”

DEFRA said it would not reveal its revenue and tax plans, although the official line was that there were some hard decisions to be made in consultation with the industry. Hudson would not deny that Defra was seeking to top up its budget from industry coffers: “We’re not necessarily saying one thing or another.”

In a separate development, Defra has launched a new corporate logo. It will be rolled out from the start of October as items bearing the previous branding, such as stationery, are depleted.