Food security tops agenda for Defra with launch of new strategy

Food security is on the top of the Government's agenda this year as secretary of state for the environment, food and rural affairs Hilary Benn launched strategy Food 2030 this week.

The document sets out the challenges facing Britain in maintaining a secure food supply at a time of rapid population growth and climate change.

Benn unveiled the strategy at this week's Oxford Farming Conference, where he told delegates that "food security is as important to this country's future well-being, and the world's, as energy security".

"We need to produce more food. We need to do it sustainably. And we need to make sure that what we eat safeguards our health," he added.

"We know that the consequences of the way we produce and consume our food are unsustainable to our planet and to ourselves. There are challenges for everyone involved in the food system, from production right through to managing food waste."

Benn said that people power can help bring about a revolution in the way food is produced and sold, and that food businesses, including supermarkets and food manufacturers, would follow consumer demand for food that is local, healthy and has been produced with a smaller environmental footprint.

The food strategy sets out goals for 2030 and the changes that need to be made to achieve them, including:

  • An innovative, competitive, skilled and resilient food sector, supported by first-class scientific research and development, with sustainable supply chains.
  • Informed consumers able to choose and afford healthy food, supported by better labelling and information.
  • Government support for partnerships, funding of research, regulating where necessary and cutting red tape where possible, leading by example through public food procurement and campaigning for change in Europe and globally.

NFU President Peter Kendall said of the document: "This vision clearly sets out many of the challenges that the food system faces and indicates a number of possible solutions that farmers and growers will want to scrutinise as they think through the long-term direction of their businesses."

For more on this story, see next week's Grower.


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