The Agriculture Bill must be amended to ensure it has a stronger focus on affordable food, the chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee has said.
Neil Parish told a Sustain event in Parliament last night (June 18) he was keen to work with MPs from other parties to improve the legislation.
“One criticism of the Agriculture Bill I will make is it does not talk enough about affordable food,” he said.
“In the end, we all need food – healthy food – so let’s make sure it is affordable. Cross-party, we need to do more on this.”
Mr Parish also pointed out the Food Strategy, promised by Defra Secretary Michael Gove in June last year and headed up by co-founder of the Leon restaurant chain Henry Dimbleby, had been delayed by Brexit.
As a result of the hold-up, the NFU has revealed it plans to publish its own strategy based upon four pillars: the ‘moral imperative’, which focuses on the UK’s ability to feed itself; food integrity, standards and safety; healthy eating and nutrition and agriculture’s relationship with nature.
Defra Minister David Rutley, who was also speaking at the Sustain event, said Mr Dimbleby was working on the Government strategy and would have ‘full ministerial support’.
But Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy at City, University of London, warned Mr Gove’s likely departure after the leadership election could see the strategy kicked into the long grass.
This would make it the second food strategy – following in the footsteps of the 25-Year Food and Farming Plan promised in the 2015 Conservative Party manifesto – to be ditched.
Writing exclusively for Farmers Guardian’s Brexit hub, Prof Lang said: “Insiders tell me that a few months ago, if Mr Gove were to leave Defra, the Dimbleby English Food Strategy process would have died too.
“Now, it is said to be more hard-wired in Defra, but a new Secretary of State might put it on ice.
“Henry Dimbleby, to his credit, told our City Food Symposium in April that whether official or not, the process of food strategy review would have to continue.
“He is right in theory, but would it have leverage if outside Whitehall? I suspect not.”
To read Prof Lang’s piece in full, click HERE.