My name is Rhys, a first time dad blogging about my adventures and experiences of being a parent. [email protected]

FUW supports intentions and objectives of draft Food Bill

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has responded to Peter Fox’s draft Food (Wales) Bill, in principle supporting the intentions and objectives of the Bill.

Member of the Senedd for Monmouth Peter Fox MS was successful in a ballot for the right for a non-Government Senedd Member to bring forward a proposal for a new law, and has until 17 December 2022 to finalise and introduce his proposed Food Bill.

FUW Senior Policy and Communications Officer Gareth Parry said: “In our response, we highlighted how the Covid-19 pandemic and ongoing Russian war on Ukraine has demonstrated how sensitive food supply chains and agricultural commodities can be to global events, serving as a stark reminder of the dangers of relying on imports of food and raw materials.

“While the combined impacts of recent events are evidenced by the fact that the UK inflation rate for food and non-alcoholic beverage prices reached 12.7 percent in July 2022, The Andersons’ Centre reported in July that ‘agflation’ (inflation linked to rising agricultural costs and prices) was running at 23.5 percent per annum.”

The Union further stressed that with current inflation rates and soaring energy prices, pressures on disposable incomes and the public purse are increasing which will inevitably lead to more price-based purchasing decisions.

“As such, there is certainly a role for the Welsh Government to play in building better relations with major retailers as they continue to be the primary outlet for Welsh produce in order to maintain – as much as possible – the positive trends the Welsh red meat industry has experienced throughout the pandemic,” said Mr Parry.

Central to this, the FUW highlighted in its response, is the need for clear labelling of Welsh produce which recognises the world-leading animal health and welfare, environmental and food standards our farmers already adhere to.

“This is essential given that a large proportion of Welsh produce – including that produced to the standards of farm assurance schemes such as Red Tractor and FAWL – is sold by major retailers in other parts of the UK under the GB flag due to a lack of processing capacity in Wales, making it extremely difficult to segregate products by their country of origin.

“Adjacent to this, especially now that consumers are returning to eating out of the home, is the need for clear labelling of Welsh produce across the food service sector,” added Mr Parry.

Regarding public procurement, the consultation document stated that ‘public bodies have been found to have very different and inconsistent attitudes towards food policy within their own remit.’

“The FUW has been instrumental in ensuring that Chartwells – the catering company supplying food to schools in Anglesey – commits to source 30% of the total produce from within a 60 mile radius as part of its contract with Anglesey County Council.

“Whilst the proportion of food procured locally by some public bodies has increased over recent years, there remain a significant number of administrations which fail to support Welsh agriculture, choosing instead to accept produce from countries which often fail to meet the high production standards which are a statutory requirement in Wales,” highlighted Mr Parry.

However, the consultation document also highlighted ‘a general lack of scrutiny of policy related to the wider food system in Wales … with Welsh Government departments taking different approaches to food policy; thus resulting in policy aims that can often contradict each other,’ and recognised the importance of a ‘joined up approach so both Bills [Food (Wales) Bill and the Agriculture (Wales) Bill] support each other.’

The consultation document also recognised that there may be some cross over to the policy objectives of the Food Bill such as the commitment to ‘develop a Wales Community Food Strategy to encourage the production and supply of locally-sourced food in Wales’ within the Welsh Government’s Programme for Government and Co-operation Agreement with Plaid Cymru.

“As such, we believe there is certainly a role within the Welsh Government to ensure that these Bills, current policies and future schemes complement each other and achieve such objectives for the benefit of Wales’ food producers and consumers.

“Furthermore, we are supportive of the proposed functions of a Welsh Food Commission which could bring existing food policy focussed groups together and work alongside and scrutinise current policies and other legislative Bills.

“Such a group should ensure that future food policies reflect the socio-economic factors of the entire food system and the seven Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 goals, and undertake the roles highlighted in our consultation response such as addressing barriers to local procurement and ensuring that Bills which influence food policy complement each other.”

“We would like to express our thanks to Peter Fox and his colleagues in the Senedd for their hard work in drafting this Bill,” he added.