Government to “improve fairness” in British food chain

Government to “improve fairness” in British food chain

The Prime Minister has announced the publication of the first Food Security Index as well as new measures in support of the British farming industry at the 2024 Farm to Fork Summit.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Announced at the Farm to Fork Summit was a range of new support measures, including £3 million in funding for new and mobile abattoirs through the Farming Investment Fund.

The Government also revealed its commitment to laying a Statutory Instrument to introduce a mandatory scheme for sheep carcase classification and price reporting, as well as the use of automated classification systems for the sheep sector.

It said it will launch a new Endemics Disease Scheme with over £72 million funding to help farmers maintain healthy livestock and eradicate disease.

To “ensure fairness in the supply chain”, Government said it will introduce regulations to improve fairness in the pig sector “as soon as possible”. It said it would bring “stability and security” to the pig supply chain through written contracts.

“British farmers have shown incredible resilience in the face of recent challenges,” said PM Rishi Sunak. “Our commitment is to provide the necessary support to ensure their continued success and to strengthen our food security. By investing in innovation and sustainability, we can enhance our food security and showcase the best of British agriculture both at home and abroad.”

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Steve Barclay said: “Today’s announcements will turbocharge the growth of our horticultural sector supporting the building of cutting-edge glasshouses and innovative farming techniques to put British fruit and vegetables on our plates all year round.

“We will continue to invest in and support farmers to produce the best of British food to strengthen our food security, championing innovation in the sector.”

Farming Minister Mark Spencer said: “This Government will always back British farmers. Food production is the primary purpose of farming, and our farmers and food producers work hard to keep the nation fed, despite challenges including flooding.

“Supporting our farmers and food producers is at the heart of our plans and we are committed to working with them. We are pressing on with our plan by investing in food security and resilient farming businesses, providing business advice and cutting unnecessary red tape.

“It is an exciting time and we are investing in innovation, ensuring the sector has the labour it needs, further embedding fairness in the supply chain, and making sure the sector is attracting the best and brightest.”

Government must rebuild industry confidence

President of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), Tom Bradshaw, said: “Many of today’s announcements are extremely welcome, particularly those long-term strategic ambitions around the launch of a UK Food Security Index and measures to boost the production of more British fruit and vegetables.

“The NFU’s recent confidence survey revealed just how tough it is out there currently – the reality is that some farmers and growers believe they may not survive long enough to benefit from today’s announcements.

“That’s why, while we are pleased to see the Prime Minister and Defra saying UK food security is vital to our national security, we need actions in the short-term that underpin that statement, in order to rebuild confidence and resilience so farming businesses can continue producing food.

“We will continue to engage with ministers on the detail needed for the immediate relief our farm businesses require and believe that core standards for food imports also need to be part of the long-term offer.”

The Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC) also welcomed the initiative. A spokesperson said: “We are positive about the opportunity to enhance UK fresh produce production and food security. This initiative reinforces the need for a balance of imports to meet the diverse eating habits of our nation.”

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