Blogs / Sustainable Farming Campaign
What can farming organisations do to support a brighter farming future?
Our Unpicking Food Prices report shows that farmers get a raw deal from the supermarket chain. Farming representatives, like the NFU, must challenge these issues and put forward better policies for resilient farming. What should the sector be calling for?
Download button: Unpicking Food Prices
We need a vision for farming where the values of sustainability, resilience, transparency, and fairness are integrated across food and farming policy. At present, the UK’s food and farming system is far from being resilient.
Our Unpicking Food Prices report shows this by digging into the flow of money in the supermarket chain. We found that farmers often received less than 1% of the profit made on key food items (carrots, beefburger, sliced bread, and cheese). While a handful of supermarkets continue to dominate the market and regulations struggle to address this, farmers and the food system will remain fragile.
Therefore, it has never been more important to think differently about the food system and move away from wanting the status quo. We have reached a point where farm incomes are low, workers’ wages are poor, impacts on climate and nature are significant, and diet-related health issues are spiralling out of control.
We must acknowledge that restoring nature, tackling public health, and producing affordable food go hand-in-hand. Improving soil health and nature is a prerequisite to producing affordable healthy food in a resilient way.
The food system is broken and is in need of transformation (not tweaking), so what does the sector need to call on government to do:
- Put an ambitious programme together that will support the growth in better food trading and a more diverse marketplace that is fair, sustainable, and resilient.
- Provide the right kind of funding that can increase and enhance local food enterprise, jobs, collaboration, and infrastructure across the UK.
- Implement supply chain fairness regulations that are robust and far-reaching, with a well-resourced independent regulator to cut abusive practices and contracts.
- Force supermarkets and large intermediaries to report on their impacts on farm incomes and show that they are paying a fair price back to the producer.
The next General Election is an opportunity for the sector to set out this vision of a more resilient farming sector and food system. To do so requires a change in emphasis from tweaking the status quo to transformation.
Download Unpicking Food Prices here.
Published 20 Feb 2023
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James has been working at Sustain since September 2020 and works on farming and local food system policy and campaigns. He also sits on the Brighton & Hove Food Partnership Board. He has worked in farm advice at Natural England, farming policy at Defra, and on animal welfare issues at the NFU. James is passionate about agroecological farming, fairness in the food system, and is an aspiring farmer.
Sustainable Farming Campaign
Vicki Hird MSc FRES is an award winning expert, author, strategist and senior manager who has been working on environment, food and farming issues for over 30 years. As part- time Head of Sustainable Farming at Sustain, Vicki manages the farm team, policy, research and related campaigning and provides comment and guidance on these issues.
Head of Sustainable Farming Sustainable Farming Campaign
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