“The National Food Strategy is a welcome addition to the debate about the future of land use and food production in the UK, alongside the critical issue of diets. The focus on nature friendly farming methods, such as regenerative agriculture, and the need to pioneer new techniques to increase crop yields, whilst also protecting the environment, are very positive recommendations, and will resonate with many in the farming community in Wales.
“The strategy highlights the need to properly reward farmers for environmental improvements above and beyond what they already do. Many Welsh farmers often make very little profit from their efforts, and while so many of them are already undertaking a wide variety of environmental works, it is vital to recognise that any major change in land use proposed as part of Dimbleby’s vision should be driven by the market and positive incentives, rather than through compulsion.
“Government in Wales and England must understand the important role livestock plays in environmental management, and it needs to avoid succumbing to the false narrative set by campaign groups that meat is inherently bad. The report rightly recognises the world class environmental and animal welfare standards of British food. It is precisely because of these standards that government and industry can argue with confidence that consumers should buy British meat – as well as other British food – as part of a healthy and environmentally conscious diet.
“Farmers want to farm, and there is both demand and need for high quality British food both in domestic and overseas markets. Maintaining our high standards must never be up for debate, and we warmly welcome the report’s support for ensuring these standards are maintained and protected in the UK’s international trade strategy.
“It is right to consider alternative ways of farming and different uses for land. Enhanced tree planting and peatland restoration will play an important role in further boosting landowner’s efforts to mitigate climate change and biodiversity decline. But any change in land use, particularly to the extent that the strategy recommends, must be driven by the market and positive incentives rather than compulsion – and not come at the expense of the country’s ability to feed itself. ”