This report from the Institute for Public Policy Research sets out nine key principles for the UK to address the climate crisis, improve food security and restore nature in a way that is just and fair to farmers, farm workers and communities. The researchers convened several community panels and grounded their report in the lived experience of farming communities.
The report highlights the need for an industrial strategy for UK food and farming and argues that significant shifts will not happen without robust intervention from the government.
They suggest that this industrial strategy should provide farmers with more security and support, rebalance power relationships across the supply chain, reconnect the public with their food and ensure everyone can afford a healthy and sustainable diet. The report highlights:
- A farming sector that works for food, nature and climate: Government must produce a coherent strategy to reduce the meat and dairy sector’s land share, increase the sustainable production of fruit and vegetables, supply coherent data for land use decisions and support nature through increased funds to the Environment Agency.
- A Government led fair transition: Farmers need long-term budget for farming and land management payments based on environmental need, targeted support for those most affected by energy price increases, a plan to move to renewable energy sources, and more support for training and advice through peer-to-peer networks, training and advice, a strengthening of the regulatory baselines for farming in the UK. They recommend that the government allocate £2.4 billion a year for the next decade in England for environmental land priorities, excluding access and farm pollution and waste control. Additionally, harnessing the power of private investments in nature recovery and carbon sequestration will require prioritising work outlined in the green finance strategy and nature markets framework, regulating the carbon market, creating trust in the market for investors and creating mechanisms to discourage unsuitable offsetting activity.
- Fairer supply chains - Local authorities must support local retailers and shorter supply chains. Mandatory food waste reporting for industry(plans for which were scrapped in the UK in July 2023) must be enforced along with measures to prevent businesses from ‘hiding’ their food waste behind the farm gate.
- Access to nutritious and sustainable food - Local authorities must create food partnerships for their area and increase standards for local public procurement to stimulate the market for local, sustainable and healthy food. Free school meals must be universal. Measures must also be introduced to control food price inflation, without costs being passed on to farmers.
- Reconnecting communities with food production - Public information campaigns on the role of food and farming in climate and nature crises. This may include raising awareness of ‘Educational Access’ payments to farmers for hosting farm visits for farm visits and government supported apprenticeships to create a future workforce and to promote the sector as a desirable career choice to younger people.