Gove announces ‘field to fork’ review of UK food system

Michael Gove said farmers face 'many challenges' such as climate change and an expanding population
Michael Gove said farmers face 'many challenges' such as climate change and an expanding population

The UK is set to begin its first major review of the country's food system in nearly 75 years, with sustainability and food security high in priority.

Defra has published its objectives of the upcoming National Food Strategy via its Terms of Reference, which will kick start the process of bringing the promised strategy into reality.

The strategy will cover the entire food chain from field-to-fork to ensure it “delivers safe, health, affordable food”, “is built upon a resilient, sustainable and humane agriculture” and “restores and enhances the natural environment for the next generation in this country.”

It will also make sure farmers and the wider chain are “robust in the face of future shocks” and that it works in “an efficient and cost-effective way”.

Henry Dimbleby - co-founder of restaurant chain Leon and of the Sustainable Restaurant Association - has been appointed by Defra Secretary Michael Gove to lead the review.

His recommendations will result in a new National Food Strategy, set to be published in 2020.

'Protected for future generations'

Mr Gove said leaving the EU is a 'great opportunity' for British farmers and food producers.

However, with an expanding population, the threat of climate change and rising levels of diet-related disease, farmers face 'many challenges too'.

“That is why the time is right for us to look afresh at our food system to ensure everyone has access to high-quality British food and our environment is protected for future generations,” he said.

Mr Dimbleby added: “From farmers in the field to chefs in the kitchen, over the next year I’ll be speaking with people from across the food chain to address these challenges and ensure everyone has a say in shaping the future.”

Call for evidence to begin shortly

A formal call for evidence will be held shortly to seek views from all those who have a vested interest in the future of British food.

The National Food Strategy will build on the government’s Agriculture Bill and Fisheries Bill currently before Parliament, alongside the Industrial Strategy, and the upcoming Environment Bill.

NFU President Minette Batters said the union is 'pleased' to see the government taking food production seriously.

“It is crucial that this strategy delivers for everyone – from food producers to families across the country, regardless of their income.

“Safe, traceable, affordable food that is produced to high standards of animal welfare and environmental protection is a right for all and British farmers should be the number one supplier of this,” she said.