Commitment to sustainable food & farming in National Food Strategy

Sustainability in National Food Strategy

The Soil Association welcomes the government’s commitment to sustainable food and farming in the upcoming National Food Strategy.

Today Defra is published the objectives of the upcoming National Food Stategy via its Terms of Reference, which will kick start the process of bringing the promised strategy into reality.

It confirms that the National Food Strategy will provide an overaching plan for the entire food chain from field to fork to ensure it:

  • “delivers safe, health, affordable food”
  • “is built upon a resilient, sustainable and humane agriculture”
  • “restores and enhances the natural environment for the next generation in this country

The stated purpose of the strategy recognises that intensive farming generates environmental problems and that “the impacts on soil health, air quality, river freshness, biodiversity and climate change have raised urgent questions about how we can make food production genuinely sustainable”.

The government has commissioned an independent review into the UK's food chain to inform the strategy. The review will be lead by Henry Dimbleby and its findings will be published in summer 2020.

Rob Percival, Soil Association Head of Policy for Food & Health, said:

“Food and farming are at the centre of the climate, soil, wildlife, and health crises we face. We welcome the commitment from government to introduce an ambitious National Food Strategy focused on sustainable food production.

“The strategy provides a rare opportunity to look at the whole supply chain, and to champion joined-up solutions to these issues. A commitment to real food and nature-friendly, agroecological farming, including organic, must be at its heart.

“Perverse drivers towards intensification must be avoided, or the threats of antimicrobial resistance, deforestation and soil degradation will be exacerbated.

“There are policy solutions that should be implemented immediately to meet the strategy’s ambitions, including redesigning the School Fruit and Veg Scheme to include more British and organic produce. This would both create markets for UK farmers and support children to enjoy a healthier diet.”

Earlier this year the Soil Association revealed that the £40m School Fruit & Veg Scheme was not fit for purpose as the lack of quality was causing children to dislike fruit and vegetables.

Read more in the State of the Nation: Children’s food in England 2018 report and visit Food for Life to find out how schools working with us are already showing it's possible to provide healthy, sustainable meals that children can enjoy.