OFC 2010: Benn unveils major Government food strategy

The government has set out its first major food strategy for 60 years in a bid to develop secure food supplies and protect the environment.

Unveiled by DEFRA secretary Hilary Benn at the Oxford Farming Conference on Tuesday (5 January), the long-awaited strategy calls for UK farmers to “seize the opportunity” to produce more in a sustainable way.
Called Food 2030, the plans say the nation needs to recognise the importance of the UK producers and that farming needs to be “talked up, not run down”.
But it also calls for farmers to make changes in the way they work to look at ways to use resources more effectively and cut greenhouse gas emissions.
“We need to produce more food, do it sustainably, and ensure the food we eat safeguards our health,” Mr Benn told delegates. “It’s a big challenge, but it’s also a big opportunity for farming.
“Farming should be the progressive industry of the future and those who work in it need greater public recognition and thanks.
“But there also needs to be a new culture of professionalism to ensure we have new farmers to pick up where others have left off.”
Mr Benn said consumers needed to be better-informed to help them make healthier, more sustainable choices and that misleading food labelling needed to be properly tackled.
“The supply chain is critical,” he added. “Every aspect of it needs to competitive and resilient.
“I expect all retailers to sign up to the retail code of practice and we will deal with misleading nonsense on labelling.”
Mr Benn said Food 2030 would help producers tackle all of those issues and it was up to farmers to take the opportunities set out in the strategy.
“Your job as growers and producers is to seize the opportunity before you and show what you can do sing ingenuity inherent in farmers.
“My job is to support you and society’s job is to value food for what it’s really worth.
“This is a great opportunity for farming and it’s up to us to take it.”

For more from the Oxford Farming Conference click here. Read the full strategy document.