At this online Food Policy on Trial, we will put the following question ‘in the dock’: should there be a target for 80% of publicly procured food to be sourced from the UK?
There are live debates about whether aiming for higher levels of self-sufficiency is desirable and possible. Join other policy influencers, policymakers and interested members of the public in this inquiry-style session. Help scrutinise this policy idea and judge whether this would be likely to make a net positive or negative contribution for food systems, and beyond.
UK self-sufficiency reached a post-war high in 1984, when 78% of produce was home grown. It has declined steadily since then, to around 60% currently. While the Government Food Strategy consultation referred to a target of 50% locally/ sustainably produced public sector food by spend, others such as Professor Tim Lang and Jeremy Clarkson believe we should be aiming for the 80% self-sufficiency levels seen in the 1980s. According to Lang, that’s the ideal middle ground between total self-sufficiency, which is “stupid and unlikely to work”, and the suggestion that “trade is the answer to everything”. We’ll discuss what such a target might mean for food public procurement. We’re not claiming at the outset that this is a good or bad policy idea for our food systems – we just want to explore it.
We will hear insights and evidence from expert witness speakers:
- Minette Batters (President of the NFU)
- Jayne Jones (Immediate past chair of local authority group ASSIST FM; Assistant Director, Facilities and Production at NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde)
- Catherine McBride (Economist, Senior fellow at the Centre for Brexit Policy and Trade & Agriculture Commission member)
- Tim Radcliffe (Net Zero Food Programme Manager, NHS England) and
- Ian Wright (Co-Chair, Food & Drink Export Council; Partner at Acuti Associates; and former Chief Executive of Food and Drink Federation).
The jury, comprising members of the Food Ethics Council, will be chaired by Pete Ritchie, Director of Nourish Scotland. The jury will ask questions of the speakers, before opening it up to the wider jury, you the participants, for further questions. There will then be an opportunity to break into groups for deliberation to allow you to come to your own judgments on whether a target of sourcing 80% of publicly procured food from the UK might hinder or help shifts to fairer food systems.