Reported in Politico this week, the French Agricultural Minister Stéphane Travert has announced that at least half of all food bought by the public sector in France must be either organic or locally-produced, or come with a quality label, by 2022. The new rules are part of measures to boost the French farming sector, and to improve diets.
Responding to the announcement Rob Percival, Senior Policy & Campaigns Officer for the Soil Association’s Food for Life, said: “Michael Gove should sit up and take note of this new French policy, which highlights the power of public procurement to support better farming practices, while also improving diets. The UK public sector spends £2.4 billion each year procuring food and catering services, providing an enormous opportunity to spend public money for public good. Food for Life has shown what is possible, growing the market for assurance schemes including Red Tractor, LEAF, RSPCA-assured, and organic. More ambitious action from Government could further stimulate demand for British, local, and higher quality produce.
Michael Gove already has the tools he needs at his fingertips. He must move now to implement mandate Defra’s Balanced Scorecard approach across the whole public sector including education and health, while requiring public procurement decisions to place a weighting of at least 60% on quality relative to cost. He should also investigate the potential of innovative ‘dynamic’ procurement approaches to support SME producers to gain access to markets, in line with the commitments made in the Industrial Strategy. As France is showing, public procurement can be a powerful tool for supporting local and organic farmers, and can make an important contribution towards improved public health. Gove must seize the opportunity presented by Brexit to implement a procurement policy at least as ambitious as his French counterpart.”
Find out more about the impact of Food for Life here