Analysis: Food strategy receives mixed reaction from industry – Farmers Weekly

The new National Food Strategy represents a “clear milestone” as the federal government has lastly recognised the significance of home meals manufacturing, based on NFU president Minette Batters.

The strategy (PDF) has acquired a mixed reaction because it was printed on Monday 13 June, a yr after restaurateur Henry Dimbleby’s independent assessment of England’s meals system prompted the federal government’s newest doc.

Mrs Batters instructed an viewers on the Sustainable Food Trust (SFT) convention in Gloucestershire on Wednesday 15 June that the strategy was “phrases for the time being”, however the coverage should now be developed.

See additionally: Mixed voting intentions for farmers in Devon by-election

She stated it was proper that the federal government had reacted sharply to the worldwide scenario, together with the Ukraine struggle, and recognised the worth of home meals manufacturing.

Until now, the federal government had legislated on bushes, nature, huge commitments on inexperienced power and constructing, however meals manufacturing had been “the poor relation”.

“Is this a recreation-changer within the coverage considering?” she requested. “I hope so as a result of it must be.”

Broad dedication

Defra’s doc commits to supporting farmers to broadly preserve the present stage of meals that’s produced domestically, and increase sectors the place there are the largest alternatives, similar to horticulture and seafood.

Currently, the UK produces 60% of home meals by worth, which rises to 74% of meals that we are able to develop and rear within the UK.

Mrs Batters stated the strategy additionally contained good commitments on rising extra of our personal fruit and greens and sourcing extra native meals within the public meals sector.

The query now was what this might all imply for small household farmers and the way the dedication on meals manufacturing would change the federal government’s considering on its Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme.

What the strategy says

Defra’s lengthy-awaited Food Strategy features a dedication to assist farmers to “broadly preserve” home meals manufacturing.

The strategy repeats its pledge to ensure funding for UK agriculture on the identical ranges for the lifetime of this parliament. Other plans embrace:

  • Invest £270m throughout the Farming Innovation programmes till 2029
  • An extra 10,000 Seasonal Worker visas (8,000 for horticulture and a pair of,000 for poultry), rising the variety of seasonal employee visas obtainable this yr to 40,000
  • Commission an unbiased assessment to sort out labour shortages within the meals provide chain to make sure UK companies can entry the labour they require
  • Explore methods to take advantage of progressive feed components that may cut back methane emissions from livestock, to assist sustainable farming
  • Consult on an ambition for 50% of public sector expenditure on meals procurement to be on meals both produced domestically or to greater requirements
  • Consult on meals waste reporting for bigger companies over a sure dimension
  • Publish a framework for land use in England subsequent yr

But Mr Dimbleby stated there have been “huge gaps” within the contents of the strategy. The most fascinating half was the dedication to supply a land use framework subsequent yr, he stated, which was “elementary” to the long run coverage improvement of ELM.

He stated it was “disappointing” that the ultimate model of the Food Strategy had eliminated a dedication within the draft copy circulating final weekend, to provide completely different tariffs for imported beef not reared in an environmentally pleasant method, similar to on deforested land within the Amazon rainforest in Brazil.

Deben criticism

Lord Deben, chairman of the UK authorities Committee on Climate Change (CCC), was extremely essential of the doc, arguing that it was “not a strategy” and didn’t handle any of his committee’s points. He additionally doubted whether or not ministers would ship its targets.

Defra farm minister Victoria Prentis instructed Farmers Weekly: “Our Food Strategy units our plan for a meals system that’s match for the long run. We are dedicated to offering a world-class, sustainable meals sector that helps farmers and growers throughout the nation.”

The Sustainable Food Trust printed its personal landmark report this week, Feeding Britain from the Ground Up – the charity’s roadmap for another meals and farming strategy.

The research means that grass-fed beef and lamb would develop into the staple meats if the UK switched to sustainable and regenerative farming practices.

However, this might imply a lot much less meat produced from grain-fed livestock, similar to rooster and pork.

In her personal phrases – Victoria Prentis

“Food is central to my private and political id. Both the pandemic and the continuing struggle in Ukraine have pushed dwelling how vital meals is to all of us.

“For instance, we now have a 25-yr-outdated girl from Ukraine who has moved into our dwelling. Her grandparents dwell in occupied Kherson and the cellphone conversations we now have about what they will discover to eat are very sobering

“We are extremely lucky that, due to the onerous work of our farmers, we’re capable of develop a lot of our personal meals on this nation. Our meals producers work tirelessly to be sure that we are able to all eat properly, and that work is one thing I’m immensely pleased with.

“Food safety is on the coronary heart of our Food Strategy, and we’re committing to broadly sustaining the present stage of meals that we produce domestically. We additionally wish to increase manufacturing the place there are the largest alternatives – similar to horticulture.

“But defending meals safety isn’t nearly sustaining manufacturing. We additionally should be profiting from the newest know-how to spice up productiveness, similar to by our upcoming Horticulture Strategy and investing £270m throughout the Farming Innovation Programmes till 2029.

“I perceive the farming industry is dealing with greater than its justifiable share of challenges as a result of impacts of the struggle in Ukraine and restoration from the pandemic.

“Agricultural commodities have at all times been intently linked to international fuel costs, so enter prices for fertiliser, livestock feed, power and gasoline are at present working excessive.

“We have already introduced some measures to assist with mitigating these challenges, however our Food Strategy goes additional in tackling different difficulties dealing with the sector.

“We are commissioning an unbiased assessment to sort out labour shortages within the meals provide chain, we’re extending the Seasonal Worker visa route to incorporate poultry, and we intend to make use of grant assist to assist farmers make investments to enhance their profitability and enhance their agricultural output.

“We gained’t inform farmers what to put money into; we’ll assist the investments that they decide to be proper for their very own companies.

“Our Food Strategy units our plan for a meals system that’s match for the long run. We are dedicated to offering a world-class, sustainable meals sector that helps farmers and growers throughout the nation.”

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