The Organic Research Centre has sent a message about a July letter written by representatives of over 80 food, farming, fair trade, poverty, animal welfare, wildlife, health and environmental organisations, including ORC, to the Brexit Government. They urged the Prime Minister and David Davis, the minister overseeing a new department advising the Government and PM on the post EU Referendum strategy, to take control of food, farming and fisheries for the public good.
With many of the UK’s food and farming policies and subsidies being defined at EU level, the UK government now has an opportunity to reshape these to ensure that taxpayers money is spent for public good.
The organisations pointed 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, 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. Will David Davis advise the government to negotiate all that?”
The signatory organisations also ask David Davis MP to ensure that the advice the new unit provides to government is drawn up in consultation with people with science, health and sustainability expertise in relation to food, farming and fishing, alongside economic concerns.
The letter and full list of signatories is available here: www.sustainweb.org/resources/files/other_docs/David_Davis_letter_FINAL.pdf