Agricultural policy should drive the change in farming and food production that is required to deliver healthy and sustainable diets and environmental benefits. Producers need the right incentives and enabling environment from government to move towards producing healthy, sustainable, affordable food.
Farmers should be incentivised and supported to transition to better farming practices, which will deliver public benefits for health, environment, biodiversity, animal welfare, pollution control and climate resilience. In practice, this includes increasing the production for human consumption of vegetables, wholegrains, nuts, seeds, fruit and pulses that grow well in the UK. It also means driving a transition to ‘better’ livestock farming that delivers a smaller amount of higher value meat and dairy, and moving away from intensive modes of production.
Enabling conditions will be critical. Specifically, this includes:
- Develop, implement and evaluate a plan to deliver, among other, increasing biodiversity and tree cover, lowering greenhouse gas emissions, water and air pollution. Link target evaluation with aims set out in the national food strategy.
- Link future farm payments to delivering on strategic objectives
- Facilitate sustainable horticulture and plant protein production. Invest in public funded research, particularly on varieties that are climate tolerant, and map suitable areas of production.
- Research and promote alternatives to imported soya and grain production for feed.
- Maximise environment scheme take up in farms
- Ensure the future profitability of sustainable farms. Provide sufficient finance for the transition, including payment for environmental services and a transition to mixed farming and agroecology, in recognition of its higher welfare and improved sustainability. Mapping of suitable areas for nature friendly livestock farming
- Provision of quality extension services (independent advice and training) for farmers to transition to better systems.
- Linking with other departments to provide a market for plant foods, i.e. leveraging public procurement policy, and consumption based support, such as through vouchers for those on low incomes.