Schools and hospitals must buy home-grown food under new Government plans

Boris Johnson will today announce a 'grow for Britain' strategy and order farmers to produce more fruit and vegetables.

Schools and hospitals will have to buy British food under a new strategy that shows the UK can lead by example.

Under the plans, the public sector could see half of all its food locally produced and certified to higher standards, as part of the Government’s efforts to support suppliers and drive economic growth.

George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, told The Telegraph: “The public sector must lead by example when it comes to supporting local suppliers and local economic growth.”

The plan is to work towards 50 percent of food expenditure being on food produced locally or to higher standards, Mr Eustice said.

“We are determined to support the sector to work with more small and local suppliers, and recognise those that are stepping up to the plate. We want public organisations to report on the food they buy, to further encourage the consumption of locally-sourced, high-quality food,” he added.

The move comes after it was revealed that Boris Johnson will today (13 June) announce a “grow for Britain” strategy and order farmers to produce more fruit and vegetables in the wake of record inflation.

The proposals form part of the Government’s first food strategy for 75 years, which will be published next week. The strategy will set out new ambitions around food procurement, which will be a combination of food produced locally and certified to higher production standards.

In light of the consequences of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine for the global economy, which has caused knock on impacts for food supplies as well as spikes in prices, the strategy will also set out the importance of maintaining and boosting the UK’s 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.

Mr Eustice also confirmed that the production of gene-edited crops is to be sped up to help guarantee British food supplies in the wake of the conflict in Ukraine.

Russian blockades are preventing the export of key goods such as wheat from the country, leading to rising food prices and shortages globally.

Amid concern over the UK's food self-sufficiency, The Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill allows farms to grow more crops by planting variants that have been edited to be more resistant to disease or need less water or fertiliser.

As he launches the strategy, Mr Eustice will also issue a call to arms to support Britain’s farmers and food producers by buying locally sourced, high-welfare food and reiterate the opportunities for UK produce abroad, including in Asian markets, Canada and the United States, as well as how the Government will support farmers to take advantage of these now that the UK is outside the EU.

Source: The Telegraph