31 May 2024
by Oli Hill

The industry bodies, politicians and academics in support of an independent UK Food Security Committee

AIC Powering Productivity report UK Food Security Committee graphic.jpg

The independent "Powering Productivity for Sustainable UK Food Security" report assesses the UK agri-food sector's productivity and recommends how to sustainably enhance our nation's food security.

It was written by Dr Marcus Bellett-Travers of Anglia Ruskin University and commissioned by the Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC), the agricultural supply trade association.

Since its publication in November 2023, many businesses, agri-food bodies, politicians and academics have voiced their support for the report's core recommendation of an independent, statutory UK Food Security Committee to lift the sector's struggling productivity.

Key recommendation

The report found that "the UK would benefit from the oversight provided by a statutory body established by government to operate independently beyond short-term parliamentary cycles.

"Such a body could advise the UK and devolved governments on national and strategic food security by taking account of the wide-ranging issues which determine agricultural productivity. It is this productivity which fundamentally underpins the nation’s food security."

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

The Committee would have representation from key government departments such as the Department for Business and Trade and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), as well as devolved governments in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and industry bodies representing the entire UK food supply chain.

Visit the Powering Productivity report webpages for more information.

Support to date

  • 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."
  • 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."
  • The need for greater food security in the UK was highlighted by MPs sitting on the Environmental Audit Committee. The Committee's report "Environmental Change and Food Security" [PDF] was published on 8 December and recommends that the Government sets up a "Food Resilience Forum" to take a long-term view.

"The introduction of such a body for the agri-food industry can significantly enhance our nation’s food security for the long term, well beyond short-term parliamentary cycles," says Robert Sheasby, AIC's Chief Executive.

"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."

Watch the launch of the Powering Productivity 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. Visit the Powering Productivity report webpages to find out more or contact AIC’s Head of Policy & External Affairs Ed Barker ([email protected]).

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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

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