Sir Ian Cheshire, chair of Barclays UK and Debenhams and the former Kingfisher chief executive, will chair a major new Commission into the Future of Food and Farming, organised by the RSA [Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce].
Announced ahead of the formal Commission launch next month (Wednesday 1 November), the two-year long Commission will help make the case for change to build a fairer food and farming system, ensuring a sustainable future for the UK’s countryside.
Note added since the Commission launch: Four Sustain member organisations will be represented on the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission: Faculty of Public Health; Green Alliance; National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI); and Soil Association; as well as Sustain itself – with Sustain’s Chief Executive Kath Dalmeny joining the Commission group.
The news comes as the UK looks to overhaul its food policy as it is set to leave three separate but overlapping European institutions which have underpinned the UK’s policy for the last 40 years:
Sir Ian will lead the Commission’s work on what a new system could look like: protecting standards and securing food supply; reforming public investment and the livelihoods of rural communities, and making the most of any new trading opportunities.
As Chair, Sir Ian will oversee a two-year programme, supported by the RSA in a secretariat capacity, which will:
Sir Ian Cheshire, Chair of the RSA’s Commission on Food, Farming and the Countryside, said, “I’m delighted to be chairing this landmark Commission which couldn’t be timelier.
We will recommend how the UK should shape its food, farming and countryside policy and practice after Brexit, as a country which imports 40% of its food and where, until now, EU policy has defined the farming sector and our natural rural landscapes."
"Leaving the Common Agricultural Policy will mean we need a whole new approach to how government ensures rural land – about 70% of which is farmed – delivers the greatest long-term benefit to UK society. Our food system is at the centre of this debate, and there are significant implications for the UK’s nations, regions and communities."
"All this is against a backdrop of climate change, emerging aspirations on future trade policy, and our ever-evolving relationship to what we eat."
"I’m looking forward to engaging with citizens, producers, consumers and businesses, and those representing the immense diversity of groups with a particular interest. Every one of us has a stake in navigating this vital aspect of Brexit, and to start to better understand how our choices shape the food, on our plates. A sustainable future for our countryside and our farming sector is a once-in-a-generation opportunity.”
Sir Ian Cheshire biography:
Sustain served on the steering group that helped with establishment of the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission, working with others to help the RSA develop the proposed programme, which they now coordinate.
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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Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.