Government's 20-year strategy sets out plans for increasing UK's food production

The UK's new food strategy, Food 2030, has set out what needs to be done over the next 20 years to feed a growing population and cope with climate change.

Secretary of state for the environment, food and rural affairs Hilary Benn launched the strategy at last week's annual Oxford Farming Conference.

He made it clear that food security is a top priority for the Government. "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," said Benn.

He added that the strategy sets goals for 2030 and details changes that need to be made to achieve them, including the need for:

  • An innovative, competitive, skilled and resilient food sector, supported by first-class scientific research and development with sustainable supply chains.
  • Informed consumers who are better able to choose and afford healthy food, supported by better labelling and information.
  • More support from Government — cutting red tape where possible and funding research.

Food 2030 says the fresh produce industry is already leading the way in helping to achieve these goals and indicates that it will continue to require help from growers to succeed.

For example, it states that projects by growers such as Staples Vegetables in Lincolnshire, which is building one of five anaerobic digestion demonstration projects to process unsold vegetables, is a good example of how waste can be reduced, reused and reprocessed.

To show how scientific research can help food production to be more sustainable, 2030 cites a Defra LINK project at East Malling Research, which showed that a 70% reduction in water use can be achieved through better scheduling of irrigation.

"Results are now being transferred to potatoes - another crop with high water demand," says the report. It also announces projects it has in the pipeline, such as a new Cook4Life Cooking with Families initiative that is being piloted this year. It is part of the Government's Change4Life campaign to tackle obesity and will see food producers help to educate parents and carers.

The Government also plans to provide additional funding to the Growing Schools Programme to enable a further 65,000 pupils, parents and staff to gain hands-on experience of growing food.

But some organisations, including the NFU, warned that "care is needed" as the Government rolls out its plans.

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