“Less than a week from now, the Government will begin to formalise the policies and payments that will shape food production in the UK for the next generation,” said Soil Association policy director Peter Melchett.
“It is frustrating, therefore, that the ‘Health and Harmony’ consultation has, frankly, bugger all to say about human health.”
He called for agricultural payments to be linked to public health outcomes and for the Government to recognise public health as a public good.
‘Incentivise a range of vital changes’
“It is vital that it does so, for this could incentivise a range of vital changes to farming practice, from increasing veg production to reducing antibiotic usage, to getting schoolchildren out onto farms and into green spaces,” urged Melchett.
Melchett also called on the Government to spend more money to support home-grown produce, instead of looking abroad for food.
“The Government also spends hundreds of millions of pounds of our money every year buying food from abroad to serve in schools and hospitals and other public places,” added Melchett.
“Why isn’t this money being used to support British farmers – particularly those producing to high-quality standards – such as high-welfare, food that is good for wildlife, and organic?”
He also warned that fruit and vegetables could become less affordable for British households post-Brexit, which could boost consumers’ dependence on buying potentially unhealthy ‘ultra-processed’ foods.
“Shouldn’t the Government be looking at how to make fresh, minimally processed and healthy foods more accessible and more affordable and on every kitchen table?” said Melchett.
The Government’s consultation into the future for food, farming and the environment is open for comments until 11:45pm on Tuesday 8 May.
Meanwhile, the absence of Government support for the agricultural sector is the biggest threat for the UK meat sector, according to industry trade body the British Meat Processors Association.