The Food Briefing (2)

Defra’s white paper response to Henry Dimbleby’s ‘The Plan’ finally appeared last month with a fart of incoherent rhetoric about activities which the government is allegedly working on, whilst being astonishingly light on genuine, effective, coherent policy. Despite the inevitable disappointment, there were a few diamonds in the rough.
Mandatory data collection is one strategy which has the potential to fuel greater changes in our health and the environment. Widespread calls for food systems data are being answered by the government to some degree, as Defra and DHSC have already met with devolved nations to discuss the initiative.
Another potential game-changer which somehow escaped attention is the public procurement consultation which proposes sourcing 50% of food locally or to higher environmental standards. We’ll watch this carefully as public procurement can play a big part in a sustainable UK food supply.
On the whole, the government is focused on innovation and private investment. There’s a commitment to a land-use strategy and horticultural intensification which will be supported by the Agriculture act and payments for public goods such as water, air and soil. Unfortunately, health doesn’t appear to be a public good. Hopefully the forthcoming health disparities white paper from the Department for Health and Social Care will tackle this.
There won’t be any legislation from this white paper. As we piece the threads of policy together, between the Agriculture Act, the Levelling Up strategy, the Agriculture Act and the forthcoming DHSC paper we can start to see a bigger picture. If only they could draw it on one piece of paper.
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