Farmers invited to help shape national food strategy

The government is inviting farmers and the public to have their say on a planned shake-up of the UK’s food industry

Defra says the call for evidence will give people the opportunity to shape how food is produced, sold and consumed in the UK.

See also: Dimbleby to lead major farm-to-fork review of food system

Described as the first major review of the nation’s food system in nearly 75 years, responses will inform a new National Food Strategy to be published next year.

It aims to ensure the food industry is fit for the future, supports growth, enhances the environment and is resilient to climate change.

The review will look at what is working well already and the role of new technology in revolutionising the UK’s food supply, says Defra.

No idea is too big or small to be considered, it says.

Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said: “As well as keeping us alive and healthy, food plays a central role in our culture and our national life.

“The threats from climate change, loss of biodiversity and the need to deliver safe and affordable food gives rise to new challenges we must address.”

Ms Villiers said Brexit was an opportunity to “reshape our food system from farm to fork to ensure it is ready to deal with these 21st century pressures”.

‘Insights and inspiration’

Restaurant entrepreneur and Defra adviser Henry Dimbleby, who is leading the review, said he wanted to gather insights and inspiration to help transform the food system.

“These could be policies or ideas that make it easier for us to make more informed decisions about the food we eat,” he said.

It could also be ideas to that make food production more environmentally sustainable, help food businesses and communities to thrive, and put the UK at the forefront of innovation.

“Whether you are someone who works in a food business, a farmer, a food processor, an interested citizen – whoever you are – we want to hear from you.

“We can’t wait to read your submissions and hear about your ideas.”

Responses should be submitted via the National Food Strategy call for evidence website by 25 October 2019.

‘Crucial role’

NFU president Minette Batters said she was pleased to work with Mr Dimbleby to continue the development of a food system that delivers high-quality, safe and affordable food for all.

“British food is among the best, safest and most affordable in the world and UK farming plays a crucial role in providing the raw ingredients that form the backbone of our country’s food system.

“It’s time we took pride and interest in our food industry, which is worth more than £120bn to the national economy and employs four million people.

Kath Dalmeny, chief executive of food and farming campaign group Sustain, said the system needed to provide healthy food while supporting decent livelihoods.

“These are tall orders, but it is the great task of our generation to tackle these fundamental issues that will underpin our ability to sustain human life and pursue social progress.

Iain Ferguson, co-chairman of the Food and Drink Sector Council, said the National Food Strategy offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity.

He added: “We encourage everyone in the industry to contribute their ideas to help create the sustainable food system of the future.”

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