The UK government now has an opportunity to reshape the food and farming policies and subsidies. It is our hope that taxpayers' money is spent on common-sense food, farming and fishing policies that are good for jobs, health and the environment.
The letter, co-signed by over 80 food, farming, fair trade, poverty, animal welfare, wildlife and environmental organisations, argues that good food, farming and fishing policies must be central to any post EU Referendum strategy for the UK.
It points out that better food, farming and trade policies can help to cut greenhouse gas emissions from farming and food industries by 80% by 2050, and promote healthier diets to combat heart disease, cancers, diabetes and obesity, saving the NHS, and ultimately taxpayers millions. Such policies can also support a vibrant and diverse economy, supporting good jobs and working conditions, in the UK and overseas.
Further, the UK could prioritise ethical and sustainable production methods, improved animal welfare, more farmland and marine wildlife, a healthy future for bees and other pollinators, as well as enhancing the beauty of the countryside and protecting the environment, whilst also providing a safe and traceable food supply.
Kath Dalmeny, head of Sustain, an alliance of food and farming organisations, who coordinated the letter, said: “The British public has given no mandate for a reduction in food and farming standards, a weakening of protection for nature, nor a reversal of the UK’s commitment to lifting millions of the poorest people in the world out of poverty through trade. We are seriously concerned that such vital considerations may be over-run by a drive for new trade deals at any cost.”
Professor Tim Lang, from the Centre for Food Policy, City University London, and President of Garden Organic, said: “Brexit was largely won on the idea that the UK can ‘take back control’ but what does this mean in a country that imports nearly a third of its food? How will we manage for fruit and veg pickers if we can no longer rely on the 65% of our farm workers that come from other EU countries? If we want a home-grown supply of fresh, healthy and sustainable food, then farm incomes must improve, including fair terms of trade for farmers, and better pay and conditions for farm workers, as well as some level of continued allowance for migrant and seasonal workers.”
Full text of the letter is here.