Last week, the Government set out a new Food Strategy to back our farmers by helping to increase domestic production, spread jobs and grow the economy.
Currently, the UK only produces 15% of tomatoes supplied domestically, but new generation technology, such as sustainable and efficient glasshouses, has opened up new opportunities for British producers which will help to reduce reliance on overseas production.
The plans include incentives for industry and investment in research and will support farmers to harness this innovation to boost home-grown fruit and vegetable production, creating new job opportunities across the country.
In light of the consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for the global economy, which has caused knock on impacts for food supplies as well as spikes in prices, the Food Strategy also sets out the importance of maintaining and boosting our food security, including plans to strengthen the resilience of our supply chains and boost domestic production to help protect against future economic shocks and crises.
It commits to broadly maintaining the current level of food that we produce domestically and boosting production in sectors where there are the biggest opportunities – such as horticulture and seafood.
£270 million will be invested across farming innovation funding programmes until 2029, to unlock technologies to drive sustainable farming techniques which will help increase productivity and profitability and the sector’s long-term resilience.
As well as stepping up work with industry to identify ways to help more people into jobs all along the food supply chain, the Food Strategy also sets out plans to create a new professional body for the farming and growing industry to step up professional training and develop clear career pathways, equipping people and businesses with the skills needed to run sustainable and profitable businesses.
The strategy also includes plans to review the planning permission process to support new developments of glasshouses, extend the Seasonal Workers visa route to poultry, following a successful pilot last year and launch an independent review to tackle labour shortages in the food supply chain – looking at the roles of automation, domestic labour and migration to ensure UK businesses can access the labour they require.