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Number 10 holds second Farm to Fork Summit  

Number 10's Farm to Fork summit on 14 May focused on ramping up UK fresh produce, but some of our alliance members argue it doesn’t paint the full picture. Sustain responds.  

Number 10 Downing Street. Copyright: zjtmath | shutterstock

Number 10 Downing Street. Copyright: zjtmath | shutterstock

As farmers tackle the challenges of a wetter than ever 2024, the Government's announcements this week focused on increasing UK fresh produce to improve food security.

Sustain welcomed the new package of support for farmers and some commitments to improve supply chain regulation. However, reflections from some members were that the summit did not paint the full picture and the measures do not amount to the potential of last year's Horticulture Strategy and National Food Strategy (both unfortunately ditched by Government) that our alliance wants to see reinstated.

Our Chief Executive, Kath Dalmeny commented : 

"Half of Britain's fruit and veg growers say that their businesses are in peril from pitifully low farmgate prices, labour shortages, unfair trading by supermarkets and the extreme weather experienced over recent years. It's welcome news that the Government has offered some financial and policy support for the fruit and veg industry, but it doesn't come close to the Horticulture Strategy or National Food Strategy that the Government ditched last year. True food security is built on respect and fair trading for farmers, production of food that supports affordable healthy diets, and care for the health of soil, pollinators and a stable climate that make growing food possible."

Kath Dalmeny shares further thoughts and responses from alliance members in a blog here.  

Summary of announcements  

In advance of the Farm to Fork Summit at Number 10 Downing Street, the Government announced plans to boost domestic production of fruits and vegetables. Their aims are to increase horticultural output by removing the planning barriers to development of more glasshouses and investing in high-tech solutions such as automation of pack-houses, while championing British produce.  

Other measures include: 

  • The UK’s first UK Food Security Index, which will support annual monitoring of food security in the UK on 9 indicators. This will go alongside the food security report that happens every three years. 
  • Funding to support access to sustainable energy and water to support decarbonisation efforts.
  • An ambition to add more value to UK horticulture - including a commitment to progress the Supply Chain Review for fresh produce, and publish the responses to the consultation, while increasing the export potential of UK horticulture. 
  • Funding for pack-house automation and technology to facilitate a shift away from reliance on migrant labour.  

Other support included: 

  • A new Horticulture Resilience and Growth offer, valued at £80m (£40m of new money) of which £10m will help English orchard growers with equipment, technology and infrastructure to grow fruit.  
  • New regulations in Parliament for eggs, fresh produce and pigs, ensuring they have reasonable and transparent contracts.  
  • £15m for a Farm Gate Food Waste Fund to enable farm surplus to be diverted to human consumption, not animal feed or anaerobic digestion. 
  • Up to £3 million for small and mobile abattoirs via the Farming Investment Fund. 
  • A new Agricultural Supply Chain Adjudicator, who will help oversee the enforcement of the Fair Dealing regulations.   
  • A range of measures to control animal disease; make water and renewable energy accessible; improve welfare in egg farming; appoint a Commissioner for the Tenant Farming sector; and fund mental health charities to help farmers.   

Sustain response 

See here for our Chief Executive, Kath Dalmeny’s blog

As outlined in our recent joint briefing on food security with the Farming and Land Use Network (FLUN), food security is more than just production.   

Sustain argue that a food security definition centred on boosting domestic production alone won't tackle today's diverse challenges effectively. Food security needs a broader definition that encompasses nutritional quality, food accessibility and stability of supply. A strategic approach to land-use for example, is crucial for food security, guiding decisions to achieve optimal outputs in the right places.  

Some of our report’s recommendations include:  

  • Revive the Horticulture Strategy: Develop a coherent, long-term horticulture strategy to increase sustainable domestic fruit and vegetable production.  

  • Introduce a Comprehensive Land Use Framework: Develop, publish and implement a framework that guides sensible land use decisions and supports resilient farm landscapes.  

  • Publish an Enhanced Food Strategy: A holistic and robust National Food Strategy is required to address many of the interrelated challenges facing the UK’s food system.  

The Government's new Food Security Index scores the UK’s food security as ‘broadly stable’. Our members told us that while helpful on the surface, there have been many iterations of this in the past. There are noticeable gaps in how it measures nutritional security, household food security and critically, environmental security.  

As the outgoing Chair of the UK Climate Change Committee Lord Deben stated at Sustain's Annual Conference back in December 2023:

"Sustainability is not an add-on and something nice which people like, it's what we have to do if we are to continue having a harvest. It's what we have to do if we're going to be resilient enough to handle the climate change already in the system. It's what we have to do if we're going to fight against obesity and the illness that comes from it."


Published Wednesday 15 May 2024

Sustainable Farming Campaign: Sustain encourages integration of sustainable food and farming into local, regional and national government policies.

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