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Emergency UK Food Strategy Needed
In the face of climate change, conflict and unparalleled pressures on farming land, we, the Community Planning Alliance, have issued an urgent call for an emergency UK food strategy.
Such a strategy must include:-
- A ban on use of our best farmland for non-food purposes, and recognition of the importance of food production in the National Planning Policy Framework.
- A new Minister of Food Security and Land Use, to implement the strategy and co-ordinate the Government bodies involved*¹.
- Immediate implementation of National Food Strategy*² recommendation 9 (a rural land use framework based on a three-compartment model).
- An urgent meeting of DEFRA’s food security*³ panel, to assess threats to our imports and determine how much UK food producing land is lost to production each year.
- An extension of the deadlines for the run-down of the current Single Payment System, in order to maintain maximum stability in arable farming productivity.
Last year, DEFRA’s food security panel warned of the risks to British farming from climate change, and last week the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued stark warnings about climate change and the impact on food production*⁴. In January the inflation rate for fresh food reached 3.3%, the fastest rate in a decade, with poor harvests in the UK and overseas given as the reason*⁵. UK and world farming now faces progressive challenges.
Good quality farmland in the UK is being lost to:-
- Development: DEFRA estimates that 6,300 hectares a year are lost to housing development and 12 times that (75,000 hectares per annum) would be needed for biodiversity offsetting. Infrastructure, such as road building and other development, is destroying thousands of hectares more. Yet already there are one million more homes than households*⁶ and one million planning permissions unbuilt*⁷.
- Renewables: Solar farms are growing exponentially, but no national figures are available. In the East of England alone, their extent doubled in just a few months*⁸.
- Tree-planting: Global corporations are buying up farmland for commercial forestry and putting farmers out of business*⁹.
- Environmental Land Management Systems: New farming incentive schemes rightly encourage sustainable practices, but land taken out of production must be measured.
- Biofuels: In 2021 the Independent Committee on Climate Change said it hoped the 100 square kilometres of UK energy crops in 2020 would rise to 7,200 square kilometres by 2050*¹⁰.
The UK imports around a third of its food. Recent political and climate changes are threatening those supply lines, as demonstrated by the Brexit-induced delays, the Suez Canal blockage and the current conflict in Ukraine, aka "Europe's bread basket". Many Britons are already facing a cost-of-living crisis. They will not be able to absorb further sharp rises.
In these circumstances, it is imperative that we increase the UK’s food security by urgently implementing an emergency food strategy and protecting land used for domestic food production.
The Community Planning Alliance
3rd March 2022
Please Note: If you are a campaigner, campaign group or organisation who agrees with the above statement, we would be grateful if you would demonstrate your support by clicking on the button below and adding your details to our form.
In addition, you may wish to consider emailing a copy to your MP and asking if they will support our call for an emergency UK food strategy. The PDF format is available for download here: Food Security Statement Download
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