Government's Food Strategy: A disappointing response with some silver linings
Soil Association Head of Farming Policy Gareth Morgan reacts to government food strategy
On Monday 13 June, the government published its long-awaited response to the National Food Strategy review.
Soil Association Head of Farming Policy Gareth Morgan said: “Henry Dimbleby’s National Food Strategy set out a bold and ambitious vision to make sustainably produced British food accessible for all. But our government has responded with little more than a rehash of old policies and a failure to consider measures to help people eat more healthily.
“However, the disappointing response has some silver linings. The ambition that half of public sector expenditure should be spent on food produced locally or to higher environmental standards, such as organic, could be transformational in creating a market for sustainable farmers here in the UK.
“But there was no mention of closing the loophole that allows schools and hospitals to source imported, lower standard meat to save money – and it was disappointing to see a lack of any new policies to ensure trade deals do not undercut British farmers.
“We welcome the proposed land use framework aiming to set out how sustainable farming will feature in our landscape, but we are yet to see targets and support for farmers to reduce reliance on artificial fertilisers and pesticides, which we know contribute to nature and climate breakdown. Also missing was the recommended commitment to extend environmental farm payments to 2029 – reassurance that farmers vitally need as they face a perfect storm of rising fuel, fertiliser and feed costs.
“We worked closely with Henry Dimbleby and his team, and we will continue to put pressure on government to adopt the National Food Strategy recommendations in other government policies due to come forward, such as the Health Disparities white paper and ‘Levelling Up’ plans.”
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