New Government strategy on food and farming

The Government has announced its new food strategy to back British food and farming.

UK agri-food and seafood sectors create over £120 billion of value for the economy every year and employ over 4 million people. The Government recognises that the industry has an important role to play in its levelling up agenda.

The strategy objectives include:

  • Broadly maintain the current level of food we produce domestically, including sustainably boosting production in sectors where there are post-Brexit opportunities including horticulture and seafood
  • Reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the environmental impacts of the food system, in line with our net zero commitments and biodiversity targets and preparing for the risks from a changing climate
  • Contribute to our export strategy goal to reach £1 trillion of exports annually by 2030 and supporting more UK food and drink businesses, particularly small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), to take advantage of new market access and free trade agreements (FTAs) post-Brexit
  • Maintain high standards for food consumed in the UK, wherever it is produced.

The key legislative framework remains the Agriculture Act (2020), Fisheries Act (2020) and Environment Act (2021). The strategy also reveals that the Government will publish a land use framework in 2023 to ensure it meets net zero and biodiversity targets, and to help farmers adapt to a changing climate, whilst continuing to produce high quality, affordable produce that supports a healthier diet.

The strategy also announces a consultation on Government Buying Standards for Food and Catering Services (GBSF). This consultation will include whether to widen the scope of GBSF mandatory organisations to cover the whole public sector and introducing an aspirational target that at least 50% of food spend must be on food produced locally or certified to higher environmental production standards, while maintaining value for money for taxpayers. This will be a positive change to buy more British produce if it comes into effect.

The strategy sets out some admirable ambitions and it is positive to see the Government looking to support the agricultural sector. However, it will be the policies that are put in place to deliver the strategy which will be key.

If you would like to discuss how the new strategy might affect you and your business, please get in touch with our Farms, Estates and Rural Land team.