Food and Agriculture
Major revision October 2020
FA100 AIMS and PRINCIPLES
FA101 Aims of the Green Party Food and Agriculture Policy - to enable the development of a Food and Agriculture system that is effective and sustainable in all senses. We will work with farmers and other stakeholders to transform the system and create an industry that:
- Produces healthy, nutritious food and other useful outputs to meet the needs of the population at fair prices for producers, consumers and all workers in the food sector;
- Overall, in order to address the climate crisis this will mean producing less meat and dairy and more fruit and vegetables;
- Ensures food sovereignty and a secure supply of food; ensuring that there is sufficient food for everyone.
- Adheres to high standards of animal welfare and husbandry;
- Ensures sustainable practices across the whole food production system including farming in an agro-ecological way.
- Conserves and improves the health of the soil;
- Enhances the wider environment, including water quality, within and beyond the purely agricultural context;
- Will reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to meet the Green Party target of zero emissions by 2030 for the whole economy;
- Promotes and maintains a wide diversity of wildlife;
- Offers sustainable employment, decent livelihoods, career opportunities, good working conditions and ongoing training throughout the workforce;
- Acknowledges that agriculture has a responsibility to manage land for a range of purposes beyond food production – flood prevention and alleviation, carbon capture, public access, maintenance of wildlife habitats, promoting biodiversity;
- Supports smaller, local, and fair-trade enterprises and limits the concentration of power and wealth within the agriculture, food processing and trading industries.
- Educates the population about food and health and builds links between farms, schools and the wider community.
FA102 Principles that Underpin and Apply across the whole policy –
- Precautionary Principle –If a product or process may have a dangerous effect (on people, animals or the environment) it should be banned unless and until its safety is assessed and confirmed.
- Polluter Pays – those who produce pollution (including greenhouse gases) should pay the costs of managing it to prevent damage to human health or the environment.
- Fair Trade – both domestically and internationally to ensure that producers receive a fair price for their product and that workers at all stages of any process receive a fair wage and have safe working conditions.
- Transparency – it is important that people can know what is in all of their food and its packaging so information about production methods and the content of food should be openly available at every stage of the food production, distribution and preparation process.
- Climate Change – All our policies will be informed by the need to mitigate its impact and respond appropriately to the climate emergency.
FA200 FOOD PRODUCTION
FA201 Agricultural Production – We will:
- Work to maximise food sovereignty using methods that are ecologically sustainable (agro-ecology), reduce greenhouse gas emissions, support best practice animal welfare, support a healthy wildlife population and provide necessary ecosystem services. This will operate on a landscape scale as well as individual farms.
- Rebalance agricultural production to produce more fruit and vegetables and to anticipate reduced demand for meat, milk and eggs.
- Support measures which promote local, regional and national food self-reliance. We support the maintenance and extension of the Products of Designated Origin system for relevant products.
- While it will continue to be necessary to import foodstuffs especially those that cannot be grown in the UK; we will control the import of animal feed especially that which is grown in unsustainable or environmentally destructive ways.
FA202 Structure of Agriculture – We will:
- Introduce policies to reverse the economic pressure toward unsustainable intensive farming methods and to support smaller mixed farms and those using sustainable methods. Farms should be able to make productive and environmentally safe use of all the ‘waste’ materials that they produce (eg manure).
- Support mixed farms and improve access to land for new entrants to the industry particularly in labour-intensive enterprises such as horticulture. We will amend the planning guidance to Local Authorities for rural areas to enable the associated infrastructure and housing to be constructed.
- Support community supported agriculture, community growing schemes, access to allotment gardens, urban gardening schemes and other local sustainable food initiatives.
- Establish an independent agricultural and horticultural advisory service to provide advice to farmers and growers based on sustainable principles.
FA203 Financial Support for Food and Farming – access to nutritious food is a right which should be upheld and so we will use public funds to support the production of wholesome food in environmentally and socially sustainable ways.
- We will change the basis of agriculture support toward supporting a combination of sustained, fairly rewarded employment, , producing nutritious food, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, high standards of animal welfare, enhancing wildlife habitats, providing ecosystem services and promoting a transition to non-chemical methods of farming.
- We will develop a mechanism to intervene, when necessary to ensure that prices and incomes are fair and sustainable throughout the food system.
- As a condition of public support farmers and growers should declare the production methods and inputs that they use and this information will be made publicly available.
- We will encourage new entrants to agriculture and horticulture and enable access to land and the provision of the necessary finance and training.
FA204 Intermediary Bodies – in order to achieve the required transformation of the Food and Agriculture Systems we will need to establish an organisational infrastructure to support and sustain the changes. We will:
- Establish a Food and Agriculture Commission to develop and implement the structural and financial changes including changes to agriculture support, regulation and taxation that we propose to introduce.
- Re-structure and adequately fund the Environment Agency and Natural England to enable them to manage natural assets effectively.
- Establish an independent agriculture and horticulture advisory service.
- Strengthen the Food Standards Agency with a brief to promote and secure wholesome food for a healthy population.
- Establish a Food and Agriculture research council with the aim of supporting research into sustainable and health and promoting sustainable methods of food production and distribution; part of its role will be to shift the balance away from chemical-based approaches toward understanding whole systems and promoting ecological balance. The imperative to combat global heating will drive research into best practice in carbon sequestration and improvement of carbon retention in soils. Given the importance of food supply and the impact of the climate crisis on agriculture we will ensure that there is sufficient research capacity to monitor the situation and provide expert advice on mitigation.
FA205 Animal Rights – the Green Party promotes the best standards of animal welfare on farms, during transit and at abattoirs. The Green Party policy on animal rights, including that set out in AR4321, will apply to agriculture.
- We will end the live export of animals for slaughter or fattening.
FA206 Prohibitions and Controls – We will:
- Establish a rigorous system for licensing new agricultural and horticultural chemicals and reviewing the licencing of existing ones including fertilisers, herbicides, pesticides and fungicides based on the precautionary principle.
- Restrict the use of fertilisers and the spreading of animal manures in a way that can lead to the pollution of soil, air or water; this may include imposing a tax or levy on the sale of artificial fertilisers; using animal manures in a positive way will be encouraged.
- Strengthen regulations to protect farm workers, rural communities, consumers, wildlife and other animals from harmful substances used in agriculture and horticulture.
- Require transparency in the use of chemicals on fields and crops and ensure that the public and local residents are informed when spraying or fertiliser application is to take place.
- Allocate sufficient resources to enable the new Environment Agency (see FA204) to monitor water quality and farm spraying activity to ensure effective enforcement of regulations.
- Establish and enforce robust regulation of GMOs (including gene edited organisms) in food and agriculture to protect people, animals and the environment. This includes effective protection from GM contamination; clear labelling of all uses of GMOs in the food chain (including animal feedstuffs); and measures to prevent the cultivation or import of GMOs unless they are independently proven, on a case by case basis to be safe and produced responsibly, fairly and sustainably. We oppose the development of GM animals.
- Restrict the use of antibiotics, growth hormones and other animal medicines to occasions when they are prescribed by a registered veterinary practitioner for animal health reasons.
- End the use of peat in horticultural compost;
FA300 AGRICULTURE AND THE ENVIRONMENT
FA301 Food, Agriculture and Climate Change – climate change is the most profound challenge facing the planet. Agriculture and food production account for some 10% of UK greenhouse gas emissions. Soil is the most important carbon store in the UK.
- All farmers will be supported through advice and guidance to manage their farms to reduce GHG emissions to net zero by 2030. Carbon sequestration will be one of the outcomes to attract payment under the revised farming support scheme.
- We will set rigorous targets for GHG reductions, to reduce emissions to zero by 2030 across the Food and Agriculture System to cover farms and the whole supply, manufacturing and distribution system including imports.
- We will promote a move to a diet with significantly less meat consumption that will require fewer farm animals reducing emissions from ruminant digestion and releasing areas of grassland for crops, forestry or wildlife.
- We will introduce a carbon tax and this will apply both to agricultural inputs and to agricultural products based on the net greenhouse gases released during their production.
- We support the development of appropriate renewable energy systems on farms; we will monitor the growing of crops specifically for fuel.
- Lowland peat soils are vulnerable to erosion and carbon loss; we will support applied research to ensure that they are managed in a manner that reduces GHG emissions and returns them to being net sequesters of carbon.
FA302 Agriculture and Forestry – we are committed to planting more trees; this will help to combat climate change and to enhance opportunities for wildlife. The Food and Agriculture Policy is compatible with the Forestry Policy which will require extensive areas of farmland to be planted with trees. We will increase overall UK tree cover to the EU average (FR600).
FA303 We will promote Agro-forestry and other approaches to integrating trees, hedges and wildlife habitats into farming and animal husbandry systems.
FA304 Agriculture and the Management of Natural Resources – Some 70% of UK land is farmland and farmers have a responsibility for the impact of how they manage the land on the whole ecosystem. Farmers will be supported through both advice and the use of public subsidy to manage their land to use natural resources responsibly.
- Farms should be managed to hold water in times of excess and to prevent rapid run-off and potential flood risks.
- We will reduce the use of artificial fertilisers and sprays and ensure that slurry and other waste material is managed effectively so that water courses are not polluted with nitrates or other harmful chemicals and greenhouse gas emissions are minimised.
- Water is a scarce resource, particularly in some parts of the country, and should be used sparingly; we will support research into the use of drought resistant crop varieties and promote systems (such as rainwater harvesting) that make best use of available water.
FA400 FOOD PROCESSING
FA401 Food Processing and Manufacturing – UK citizens eat more ultra-processed food than any other European country, which contributes to high levels of obesity and ill health. Food processing and manufacturing employ more people than farming and growing; we will work to deliver fair practices at all stages of the food supply chain.
- We will actively promote healthy food and work to reduce the proportion of highly processed food in UK diets.
- We will work to reduce the dominance of processors, manufacturers and supermarkets in the food supply chain to secure fair pricing at all stages of production.
- All processed food should include a full list of ingredients; comprehensive information about the methods of manufacture and all substances used during production should be posted on the producers’ websites.
FA500 FOOD DISTRIBUTION
FA501 Food from Overseas and Trade Deals – the UK imports a 50% (including 85% of vegetables) of its food. It also imports substantial quantities of animal food. Many foods are imported because it is not possible to grow them in the UK.
- We will ensure that all international trade deals are based on fair trade principles.
- We will ensure that UK market demands are not to the detriment of the exporting countries’ economy, society or the environment in which it is produced. We will work to eliminate modern slavery and indentured labour wherever it is found; we will require all importers to demonstrate due diligence.
- Trade Deals should ensure that imported food is produced in accordance with UK environmental, animal welfare and conditions of work standards.
- We will regulate the import and distribution of plants, animals and insects to prevent the spread of disease and of invasive species.
FA502 Food Distribution -
- We will support the development of shorter supply chains and direct links between producers and consumers.
- We will support not-for-profit community-based schemes that tackle food poverty while ensuring that the causes of food poverty are also addressed.
- We will limit the dominance and/or negative impact of large food processors and retailers to reduce unnecessary transportation of food and to ensure that farmers receive fair prices and fair contracts.
- We will regulate to ensure packaging and advertising of food products do not misrepresent how or by whom it was produced.
FA503 Public Sector Procurement – public organisations will provide a wide range of healthy catering services for staff, service users and the general public.
- Public bodies will be required to use their procurement process to specify local, sustainably sourced produce where possible.
- Menus will focus on providing healthy nutritious food including offering vegetarian, vegan, religious and other medically required dietary options.
FA600 FOOD CONSUMPTION
FA601 Restaurants, pubs, cafes, take away and home delivery establishments –
- Restaurants and other food outlets will be encouraged and supported to use and identify local, seasonal produce. They will be discouraged from serving highly processed and unhealthy food.
- We will use the planning system to reduce the numbers of takeaways that are serving unhealthy food and replace them with greengrocers and other healthy food outlets.
- We will work to address alcohol related harm by discouraging binge drinking and other harmful activities while supporting community owned pubs and other pubs that play a positive role in community life.
- We oppose the ‘beer tie’ and other means by which large brewers and pub companies restrict the range of beers and cider, particularly from smaller producers that pubs are able to sell.
FA602 Healthy and Sustainable Food Standards
- We will support a progressive transition from a diet dominated by meat and animal products to one with a higher proportion of plant-based foods by public education and the operation of the carbon tax.
- We will establish a well-funded, strong, independent body to research and to act on all issues related to food distribution and consumption; it will work across all government departments to promote safe and healthy food.
- We recognise that many people are currently not able to access healthy food at affordable prices. The ultimate aim is to secure food justice and a right to food by tackling firstly unfair food systems as outlined in this policy, and secondly via the Basic Income and Living Wage policy ensuring that everyone has sufficient income via fair wages and benefits to make healthy sustainable food choices. Whilst in transition we will give extra support to schemes which address food poverty and help with access to healthy food whilst recognising these do not address the underlying causes of food poverty and food inequality.
- We support Sustainable Food Cities and other initiatives to secure the availability of healthy, sustainable food at reasonable prices.
- We will support programmes to promote healthy eating and monitor their effectiveness.
FA603 Food Waste – much food in the UK is wasted by distributors, supermarkets, restaurants and in the home. We will work to eliminate waste at all stages of the food chain in line with the food waste hierarchy (reduce, re-use, recycle).
- We will support systems to distribute surplus food to those in need but this should not be relied on as the means to address food poverty;
- We will work to ensure that all food that is produced has a timely route to market and is not rejected on spurious grounds;
- We will support public awareness campaigns to reduce household food waste and enable unavoidable food waste to be composted or fed to animals;
- We will change legislation so that post-consumer food waste can be safely fed to animals.
FA604 Packaging – Packaging, particularly food packaging, forms a big proportion of domestic waste. We will work to radically reduce the amount of food packaging material that enters the waste stream.
- We will reduce the amount of packaging material that is used by the food industry through shortening supply chains so that there is a closer link between producers and consumers. We will seek to eliminate all unnecessary packaging.
- We will promote the use of re-fillable containers wherever possible.
- We will promote the use of re-useable packaging through deposit schemes and other means.
- We will ensure that essential packaging that cannot be re-used is made of materials obtained from sustainable resources that can be easily recycled. Government will work with food producers, waste disposal enterprises and local government to determine how this can best be done.