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Last week two very important reports were published that set out plans for the transformational change that our food system badly needs.
Part Two of the National Food Strategy calls for historic reform to the food system to improve the health of the nation and save the environment. The Strategy calls for a landmark Sugar and Salt Reformulation Tax, expansion of Free School Meals and a major overhaul of food education. The strategy lays out a package of reforms that the Government will need to commit to in order to build a better food system for a healthier nation.
On farming, Vicki Hird, Head of Sustainable Farming at Sustain, said:
“We welcome the National Food Strategy and its push for longer term support for farming to 2029 as well as its recognition of the key role for agroecological farming approaches, such as organic. But to create a resilient, fairer and responsive market for farmers we also need properly regulated supply chains and the growth of new routes to market for farmers and we hope to see that come through in the Government’s response to this report. "
Ahead of this new strategy, Sustain and the RSPB published a report A Case for Local Food, which we contributed towards. It highlights the huge opportunity that local food systems could provide in creating employment, supporting a green economic recovery, restoring nature and improve health. It calls on the Government to use its post-Brexit investment funds to fill local food infrastructure gaps to help level the playing field so that smaller independent local retailers and agroecological food producers can flourish.
Currently over 95% of the grocery market is dominated by the supermarkets. Just a 10% shift in the food retail market towards more sustainable local food systems could yield up to 200,000 more jobs and help restore nature to the countryside and tackle climate change.
We want to see government support for more initiatives like ours, so that local food is more available, affordable, accessible and identifiable. This will enable people to make food choices that reduce their impact on the planet. If the government continues to let the free market decide our food system, then we will continue on a path of no return, to further intensification, longer supply chains, less accountability and unfair playing field for the agroecological farms we desperately need.