EFRA Committee tells Government to join the dots between farming and health

Pigs on farm

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee has today (6 June) launched its report, ‘The future for food, farming and the environment’, calling on Government to harness agricultural policy to improve public health. The report follows a Committee inquiry focused on the impact of leaving the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy and whether the Government’s proposals, outlined in its ‘Health and Harmony’ paper, will deliver on its ambitions for farming post-Brexit.

The Committee report notes that the ‘Health and Harmony’ paper lacks discussion of wider food policy and “has failed to link agricultural policy to wider public health goals and reducing diet-related diseases.” The Committee notes that healthy food makes a wider contribution to public health, and recommends that public health should be supported as a public good under the new model of awarding payments to farmers. The Committee also calls on Government to recognise and harness the potential of public procurement to both support British farmers and improve diets.

Food for Life said: “The way that we farm has massive implications for our health. As the NHS sinks under the weight of obesity and dietary ill-health and the threat of antimicrobial resistance grows more severe, the Government must use every lever at its disposal to support both better farming practices and healthier eating. We support the Committee’s recommendation that public health be recognised and rewarded as a public good in the context of agricultural payments – public health should be one of the defined ‘purposes’ of the Agriculture Bill and should be integrated into all agricultural policy-making. We call on Government now to take bold steps to end the routine, preventative use of antibiotics in farming, to support British and organic horticulture, and to harness the full power of public procurement to open markets for British farmers and support British citizens to enjoy healthier and higher quality diets.”

You can read out full briefing on farming and health here.