Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Britain's Food Strategy

For three hundred years Britain has had some of the most efficient farms in the world. But through those centuries we have concentrated on earning money abroad from other areas of economic activity - manufacturing in the 19th and early 20th centuries, banking and financial services for most of the past hundred years - and then importing food from all over the world.

With the environmental challenges we now face, and the strategic risks of relying on importing food which Putin's invasion of Ukraine illustrated, it is time to rethink that strategy. 

I think we particularly need to rethink the fact that we have been operating policies like "set aside" which amount to paying people to get out of farming and stop producing food.

I'm not necessarily arguing that we should distort the market in favour of local food production, but I certainly do think it is time to stop distorting the market away from domestic food production.

I was pleased to see the government produce a new food strategy this week which shows that a much-needed reassessment is taking place.

In the Food Strategy the government has set out how it is planned to back British farmers and food producers by helping to increase domestic food production, create jobs, and grow our economy.

  • Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused spikes in global food prices, but by supporting producers we can reduce our reliance on food from overseas.
  • That is why this new Food Strategy, along with a £270 million investment across farming innovation funding programmes until 2029, will unlock technology to drive sustainable farming techniques to increase productivity and the sector’s long term resilience, while we equip people and businesses with the skills needed to run sustainable and profitable businesses.
  • The government will support farmers to harness new, innovative methods to boost home-grown fruit and vegetable production, and in turn create new job opportunities across the country.

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