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Industry leaders have urged the new government to set out how it will ensure a certain future for UK food and farming. The reminder... New government ‘must secure farming future’

Industry leaders have urged the new government to set out how it will ensure a certain future for UK food and farming.

The reminder to make sure food security is top of the political agenda is contained in a joint open letter from the NFU, British Retail Consortium, UK Hospitality and Food and Drink Federation – representing the breadth of the supply chain.

Amid widespread agreement that “food security is national security,” the letter says our food system is robust and efficient – despite the challenges of Covid, war in Ukraine, and post-Brexit trading arrangements.

Severe strain

“At times, those supply chains have come under severe strain, leading to shortages of some food and drink products and increasing costs at all points of the chain from producer to consumer,” says the letter.

And it warns: “It would be foolhardy to assume that our food system will always withstand shocks, especially against the backdrop of increased geo-political instability and climate change.”

The letter says it is the basic responsibility of any government is to ensure its citizens are safe and properly fed. And it describes the lack of focus on food in the run-up to the general election as a “worrying blind-spot”.

Getting these policies right has multiple benefits for our country and the public beyond simply guaranteeing our food security,” it says.

With over two thirds of land used for agriculture, the letter argues that productive and profitable food and farming businesses mean the countryside can be managed sustainably to protect the environment and help meet climate ambitions.

Healthy food

“A well-functioning supply chain also gives consumers access to a wide range of fresh produce and healthy food, is a crucial aspect of improving diets, alleviating pressure on the health service and improving health outcomes for our citizens.”

The letter concludes: “These policies are critical to the future health and prosperity of our nation. We should never take our food security for granted, and whoever forms the next government will need to address these issues as a priority.”

6 priorities for food and farming

The letter sets out six priorities for the new government:

1) A planning system that allows investment

2) A plan to achieve UK net zero targets

3) A coherent and joined-up industrial policy

4) An agricultural budget that also works for the environment and biodiversity

5) A trade policy that reduces non-tariff barriers

6) A long-term partnership to tackle obesity

‘Framework needed for organic sector’

Organic farmers have set out a framework for radical policy change – arguing that the sector can deliver better health, ecology, fairness and care.

Published by Organic Farmers & Growers, the framework calls for a government plan to deliver healthy food, more funding for organic farming, transparent supply chain contracts and trade policies that ensure a level playing field for farmers.

OF&G chief executive Roger Kerr said: “The nation’s seen huge upheaval in the last eight years. A flawed food system has left the country at the tipping point of catastrophic environmental and human health crises.

“Decisive action cannot come soon enough. We need policies that create jobs, improve rural livelihoods while delivering sustainable and economically viable food and farming systems.

“Restoring this balance and equity requires ambition and vision from government. The long-term effects of recent policies are still unfolding, but the need for action is urgent. One thing is clear: we must aspire to accomplish more.”