LEAF cautiously welcomes the governments’ National Food Strategy white paper.
Its high-level objectives are laudable including the ambition to strengthen our national resilience to address food security, placing nature at the heart of more productive farming and reconnecting consumers with their food. However, what is lacking is a clear plan of action and a sense of urgency in moving this vital work forwards now.
We are encouraged with the government’s aspirations to see more sourcing of food produced to higher environmental standards within the public and catering food sector and the recognition given to the LEAF Marque environmental assurance system. Already, nearly half of the UK’s fresh fruit and vegetables are produced to LEAF Marque standards, and we have set a clear target of 85% of all home-grown fresh produce to be grown more sustainably in the next five years.
We are also pleased to see that UK food producers are placed centre stage in terms of their critical role in building national resilience – be that climate change, food security, supporting healthier and more sustainable food systems and in delivering the government’s levelling up agenda. However, the white paper lacks specific detail and longer-term planning on how domestic food production will be increased.
LEAF’s 10-year strategy aligns with the broad objectives of the white paper – namely a prosperous agri-food sector underpinned by more nature-based and climate positive farming principles that offer access to healthy and sustainable food for all. The proposed Land Use Strategy expected next year has the potential to deliver a coherent vision for land use that brings together the government’s targets on net zero, biodiversity and those within the 25-year environment plan. It is critical that it works for UK farming and the environment and delivers on the ambitions of ELMs to support farmers in their transition to more regenerative approaches.
We look forward to supporting government as they develop the detail that will be required to deliver their recommendations and ultimate vision.