29 Nov 2023
by Oli Hill

Industry backs AIC's call for independent UK Food Security Committee

Ed Barker, AIC Head of Policy and External Affairs, presents the Powering Productivity report at AIC Conference 2023.
  • Defra Minister remarks on "thorough and impressive" AIC-commissioned report
  • Scottish Minister, TFA and leading academic support UK Food Security Committee
  • AIC welcomes industry backing for independent report's recommendation

The agri-food industry, politicians and trade bodies are throwing their support behind the Agricultural Industries Confederation's (AIC) call for an independent UK Food Security Committee to lift the sector's struggling productivity.

Two weeks ago, AIC - the leading trade association for the agri-supply industry - launched its call for a long-term solution to improving the UK's food security by addressing the barriers to sustainable production.

An independent report “Powering Productivity for Sustainable UK Food Security" published at AIC Conference on 15 November recommends that a statutory body be set up to provide oversight of the uniquely complex nature of agricultural productivity and food security.

Robert Sheasby, AIC’s Chief Executive, said: “The oversight of such a body for the agri-food industry will significantly enhance our national food security for the long term, well beyond short-term parliamentary cycles.

"We welcome the support from industry and stakeholders so far. AIC is encouraging the entire UK agri-food sector to back this report’s core recommendation and we look forward to working with industry and government to make it happen."

Commissioned by AIC on its 20th anniversary, the report was independently written by Dr Marcus Bellett-Travers of Anglia Ruskin University.

AIC Powering Productivity report UK Food Security Committee graphic.jpg

Growing support

Reacting to AIC's call for an independent UK Food Security Committee, the Defra Minister Mark Spencer MP said: "It looks to be a thorough and impressive report, covering all important themes in detail, such as improving productivity and enhancing the environment. We look forward to reading it in more detail."

Tenant Farmers’ Association (TFA) Chief Executive George Dunn said a "legally established UK Food Security Committee would give food security the prominence it deserves as part of delivering a healthy and resilient nation.

"Although the Government has a legislative requirement to ensure that it is encouraging the production of food in the development of its schemes and policies, there is very little if any architecture which truly holds the Government to account in delivering this.

"Unlike the legal targets that exist for environmental outcomes, there is nothing equivalent to target food security. It is about time that we paid more than lip service to the delivery of our nation’s food security."

Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Mairi Gougeon MS, welcomed the report's findings. She said: "On the importance of giving food security focused attention and dedicated resource - I welcome this report and I agree with its conclusion. The report adds weight to the Scottish Government's realisation that food security matters now more than ever."

Professor Sir Charles Godfray, Oxford Martin School, Oxford University, commented: "I think what AIC is calling for in a UK Food Security Committee is a great idea, we need something like that. There is such an opportunity here and, as an industry, we could do so much more in this area."

Commenting on LinkedIn, Professor Tom MacMillan, Elizabeth Creak Chair in Rural Policy and Strategy at the Royal Agricultural University, added: "Really great to see this from Agricultural Industries Confederation.

"[The report] covers themes that haven't always been a focus for the agricultural inputs industry, including systems, farmer-led innovation, public health and the value of different shapes and sizes of farm and supply chain. Refreshing strategic leadership for the sector."

Eleanor Kay, Senior Policy Adviser (Agriculture & Climate Change), Scottish Land & Estates added: "Our ability to improve food security depends on there being sufficient production capacity, targeted research and development, and a clear understanding of the many expectations placed on land use throughout the UK.

"We fully support the need for a UK Food Security Committee that can build on the findings of the report and is able to consider the unique requirements of devolved nations.

"Scottish Ministers can then use this to inform their comprehensive food strategy. Supply chains are closely integrated throughout the UK for food, fuel, timber, and agri-products and it is therefore sensible that we consider a UK-wide assessment of food security."


Powering Productivity

An independent UK Food Security Committee would advise the UK and devolved governments on the drivers of food security and report to Parliament on progress made in enhancing the productivity and resilience of the UK’s entire agri-food supply chain – from pre-farm suppliers, farmers and growers, through to processors, manufacturers, food service and retailers.

Much like the Independent Committee on Climate Change, it would take a cross-UK view of the legislative direction, aiding policy development and collaboration in support of our nation’s food security.

Watch the launch of the report at the AIC Conference below.

Read the Powering Productivity report's key findings to find out more.

Click below to learn more about the report and download a PDF copy.

Learn more

Notes for editors

The Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC) is the UK’s leading trade association, representing agricultural supply chain sectors including arable marketing, crop protection, agronomy, feed, fertiliser, and seed. 

Formed in 2003, AIC has over 230 Members in the agri-supply trade which are responsible for £17.8 billion of annual farm trade.

AIC is marking 20 years as the leading voice of the UK agri-supply industry, working in support of modern, sustainable, commercial agriculture. Visit the website to find out more.

Political lobbying and policy influencing is a major part of its work, as well as supporting Members with technical information.  

AIC Services, which is the professional services arm of the AIC, manages a range of services, including Assurance Schemes recognised by UK government as essential tools to underpin feed and food safety alongside fertiliser security. These include:  

Visit the AIC website to find out more.

Press contact 

Oli Hill, Communications Manager, AIC 
+44 (0)1733 385230
[email protected]


Related topics


Oli Hill

Oli Hill

Communications Manager, AIC

As Communications Manager, Oli creates and oversees the content published on AIC's website, emails, Member briefings, print publications, and social media.

A qualified multimedia journalist, he previously spent six years working at Farmers Weekly magazine as a Senior Reporter on the arable team, and latterly as Community Editor. More recently he was Communications Manager at Red Tractor.

[email protected]
01733 385230

Read lessmore