A new paper from Sustain member The Centre for Food Policy recommends a Welsh network that supports a conversation about food and agriculture based on fundamental shared values.
The Food Research Collaboration, who are an initiative of the Centre for Food Policy, have published a briefing on Brexit and Wales. It acknowledges the particular risks of Brexit for Wales' export-dependent farmers and food producers. However the briefing also sees the unique position Wales has to create a new approach to food and farming. A combination of the size of the nation, a diverse geography and a government which embraces sustainability provides a unique opportunity that could see an integrated food and farming policy in Wales setting the standard for the whole of the UK.
Summary of recommendations
Support farming that has positive environmental outcomes
Public funding must be for farming that integrates food production with care for the environment.
Support for farming should widen the definition of public goods
Public health and a vibrant food culture, including a food industry which provides satisfying and skilled employment, are vital.
Support individual farmers to revitalize the sector
Subsidy should be based on what farmers do, not how much land they manage, with support for new entrants.
Support for farming should leave room for local self-direction
Top-down prescription by government should be balanced by an emphasis on outcomes negotiated locally.
Align farming with public health and the environment
There is some scope for diversification into cereals and horticulture, and farmers should be encouraged to experiment.
Make use of public procurement
The spending power of the public purse should be used to support the transition to a more diversified agriculture and a thriving food industry.
Strengthen public education
Public Services Boards, Environment Act ‘Area Statements’, food festivals and so on should be used to engage the public with food and farming, from school age upwards.
Reduce food waste
Build on existing aid for the food industry by supporting civil society initiatives such as community fridges.
Frame food as more than a commodity
We should see food as the basis of good health, and a human right, as well as a social connector and our link with the natural world.
Establish a national civil society network
Wales would benefit from a national body, based around shared values, to integrate policy areas and share best practice.
Brexit: We stand at a cross-roads. When the UK leaves the European Union, will our leaders uphold good standards for our food, farming, fishing and trade deals? And will they agree a sensible deal with the EU? We need to make sure that they do!
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