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National Food Strategy

Volume 673: debated on Thursday 19 March 2020

As my hon. Friend is aware, Henry Dimbleby is leading an independent review of the food system to develop recommendations to shape a national food strategy. The review was launched in June 2019. A vision for the food system is scheduled for publication in the spring of this year, and the review’s final recommendations will be published over the winter. The Government will then respond to those within six months.

In these moments of great crisis when we need food, there is no doubt that home-produced food is more important than ever. I would really love it if the food strategy incorporates how we are going to produce more home-produced food. Further to the question from the hon. Member for Angus (Dave Doogan), I am looking forward to the Secretary of State supporting the amendment from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee to maintain high standards on food imports. Can that all be incorporated into the food strategy?

My hon. Friend makes an important point. Events such as those we are experiencing now remind everyone that a critical component of our food security is healthy and vibrant domestic production, which is why we have committed in the Agriculture Bill to review our food security every five years. That will include a review of the health of the food supply chain and food production in this country.

What steps are the Government taking to adapt the seasonal workers scheme to support farmers in this important growing season?

The hon. Gentleman raises an important point. If there is disruption to people visiting the UK as a result of restrictions put in place, or general concern in other countries, that may have an impact on the number of seasonal workers who come here from countries such as Bulgaria. We are working with the industry and the National Farmers Union to assess the situation, and we will be working on proposals to address it before May and June, which is when it is likely to present itself as an issue.