Luke Pollard, the MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, has today, on Back British Farming Day, called for public bodies to buy more British food all year round – part of the Party’s campaign to buy, make and sell more across Britain.
Luke is asking that every public body to give more contracts to British firms and firms across the South West, and also pass legislation requiring them to report on how much they are buying from domestic sources with taxpayers’ money. This will include British farmers and food producers.
The National Audit Office, in a report released today (15 Sep), finds Ministers are failing to gain farmers’ trust. Labour Party analysis has found rural England stands to lose more than £255 million this year alone as a result of the Conservatives cutting grants to farmers, risking as many as 9,500 agricultural jobs. The NAO has said farmers are proving very reluctant to take up the new schemes and Ministers have not yet even set agreed objectives for them.
The sector also continues to struggle with worker shortages and supply chain issues of the Conservatives’ making, all while being undermined in trade deals that risk undercutting on animal welfare and environmental standards by the world’s biggest agricultural corporations.
With public bodies estimated to spend over £2 billion a year procuring food, the Government could do more to ensure British farmers benefit, but it isn’t. Initiatives such as the Cabinet Office switching from Dutch to English bacon, but only for British Food Fortnight, are not enough.
Luke Pollard MP said:
“Our farmers look like being undercut in new trade deals with Australia and other nations meaning food produced to lower environmental and animal welfare standards could be imported into Britain. The Government is also waging a direct assault on family farms with changes in the way farm subsidy works.
“The government should be supporting farmers and food producers in the South West and across the country by making sure more contracts go to them.
“In the middle of a climate and ecological emergency we need to be growing more food locally not importing more and more from the other side of the planet.”