OF&G comment on Defra Food Strategy White Paper

13th June 2022

Like many commentators, we were hoping for a robust and clearly defined action plan from the Food Strategy White Paper. What we have instead is yet more rhetoric.

As the largest certifier of organic land in the UK, OF&G seeks to ensure that organic is fairly and equitably represented in government policy.

Mr Johnson has said he is ‘supporting UK farmers’ but this does not transpire within the white paper. There is a stark contrast between our own policy framework and those of both the US and the EU.

Our global competitors have issued clear commitments to developing the organic sector, with the USDA recently establishing a $300m Organic Transition Initiative to provide comprehensive support for farmers moving to organic production. Closer to home, the European Commission’s Farm to Fork strategy includes €186m support to promote organic and sustainable farming.

Although our own administration appears to recognise organic as a ‘higher environmental standard’ they completely fail to recognise the significant commercial and environmental opportunity that exists.

The food system is incredibly complex, but others are grasping the commercial possibilities while recognising the fundamental link between human and ecological health that organic simultaneously delivers on.

With 20% of the world’s nitrogen fertiliser and 40% of its potassium unavailable due to western sanctions, the inadequacies of this ‘business as usual’ Food Strategy must be addressed as a matter of urgency.

Sadly, the government lacks the ambition to step away from a flawed food system that’s been embraced over the last seventy years.

It has left us at the tipping point of an environmental and human health crisis which has the potential to be catastrophic unless decisive action is taken.