George Eustice – 2022 Statement on the Government’s Food Strategy

The statement made by George Eustice, the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, in the House of Commons on 13 June 2022.

Today I have published the Government’s first ever food strategy, outlining our plan to transform our food system to ensure it is fit for the future.

The Government food strategy follows the independent review of the food system led by Henry Dimbleby last year, which set out an analysis of the challenges facing the food system. The food strategy takes on several of the independent review’s recommendations, and I would like to thank Henry Dimbleby and his team for their work examining our food system and the vital role it plays in all our lives.

Food security sits at the heart of this Government’s vision for the food system—boosting food production, job creation and the wider economy with a focus on skills and innovation, to level up across the country.

We want to create a sustainable food system, from farm to fork and catch to plate, seizing on the opportunities before us and ensuring that everyone has access to nutritious and healthier food.

To do this, our objectives for this strategy are:

A prosperous agri-food and seafood sector that ensures a secure food supply in an unpredictable world and contributes to the levelling up agenda through good quality jobs around the country.

A sustainable, nature positive, affordable food system that provides choice and access to high quality products that support healthier and home-grown diets for all.

Trade that provides export opportunities and consumer choice through imports, without compromising our regulatory standards for food, whether produced domestically or imported. This strategy builds on work that is already underway across Government.

Significantly, it confirms that we will:

support farmers to broadly maintain levels of domestic production through productivity gain and our new farming schemes,

support our farmers through our new farming schemes and innovation programmes and boosting production in key sectors, including horticulture and seafood,

release the additional provision of 10,000 visas under the seasonal worker visa route, including 2,000 for the poultry sector,

work with industry to support the upcoming Migration Advisory Committee review of the Shortage Occupation List, and commission an independent review to ensure the quantity and quality of the food sector workforce,

work with the food and drink industry to review existing skills programmes, identify improvements, and tackle barriers that currently prevent uptake, helping to drive up completion of skills training, pay and productivity in all areas of the UK to support levelling up,

publish a land use framework in 2023 to ensure we meet our net zero and biodiversity targets, and help our farmers adapt to a changing climate,

launch a Food Data Transparency Partnership, bringing together Government, industry and civil society to drive a real transformation in health, animal welfare and environmental outcomes through our food,

consult on Government Buying Standards for Food and Catering Services (GBSF), including 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,

harness the benefits of new Free Trade Agreement (FTAs) made possible following Brexit, while maintaining our world-leading domestic standards, by using a range of levers within our bespoke trade agreements.

The levers influencing the food system are dispersed. We will work collaboratively across UK Government Departments, as well as closely with the devolved Administrations, industry and civil society to achieve our ambitions. We will report on our progress against the food strategy goals alongside the next UK food security report.