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Brexit Forum news, January 2019: A national food strategy?

On this page, we share recent news updates on the development of a National Food Strategy, as proposed by Defra’s Michael Gove, the first such policy since World War II. And good news from Scotland - the Good Food Nation Bill is back on the table!

Photo credit: Chris Young

Photo credit: Chris Young

Brexit and the new UK Agriculture Bill, Fisheries Bills and trade policy have understandably been dominating our collective attentions. Yet Defra Secretary of State Michael Gove has also made some tantalising references to development of a National Food Strategy, which has as yet received scant policy or media attention. If such a process happens, it would be the first UK Food Strategy since the end of World War II.

Those in the Sustain alliance with good memories will recall an earlier government’s Food Matters policy process, with decent consultation and analysis, that resulted in a useful document, which never quite ‘got there’ in the end, despite the promising subtitle: ‘Towards a food strategy’. The Sustain alliance will be seeking to influence development of this important area of work, and below we share recent news.

Gove outlines plans for a National Food Strategy

In a letter to EFRA committee, Secretary of State for Defra Michael Gove has outlined plans for a National Food Strategy, saying: “We are aiming to publish a new National Food Strategy once we are outside the EU. The work on this strategy is being led by Henry Dimbleby, Defra’s lead Non-Executive Director. Ahead of a formal launch intended early next year [2019], Henry has begun a scoping exercise for the strategy and will be seeking views from specialists and industry across the food chain, from farm to fork.”

Also: “The purpose of the proposed National Food Strategy will be to build on the work already underway in the Agriculture Bill, the Environment Bill, the Fisheries Bill, and the Childhood Obesity Plan to create an overarching, integrated food strategy for government. My intention is to ensure that our food system delivers healthy and affordable food for all people; restores and enhances the environment for the next generation; is robust in the face of future challenges and is built upon a resilient and sustainable agriculture sector.”

The National Food Strategy was the theme of Sustain’s Annual Gathering in December 2018, for which notes will be available shortly.

Scotland’s Good Food Nation Bill was going under, but it’s back!

Sustain’s sister alliance Nourish Scotland reports that they felt dismay in September, when the Scottish Executive’s Programme for Government downgraded the promised Good Food Nation Bill to a mere ’Programme of Measures’, with only a vague promise to consider legislative measures. A week later, opposition parties hit back, positive Scottish parliament debate and public action followed, and as this Nourish blog celebrates, The Good Food Nation Bill is now firmly on the table!

Save the date: Beyond Food Brexit: where are the next opportunities for food policy?

The Food Research Collaboration coordinated by the Centre for Food Policy at City University London will hold a seminar on 7 March 2019 to discuss what Brexit might mean for the UK’s food system. It will examine where are we, what have we learned and where do we go next. If you have any thoughts about what we should discuss, contact:

Just how well does the UK Government follow Sustainable Development Goals?

Sustain CEO, Kath Dalmeny, gave oral evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee as part of their follow up enquiry into the Sustainable Development Goals in the UK.

Published Wednesday 2 January 2019

Good Food Trade Campaign: Campaigning for good trade that benefits people and the planet at home and overseas.

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