Humane and Sustainable Farming

Thank you to all of you who have contacted me about humane and sustainable farming.

I support this approach; indeed as a vegetarian of over 40 years, one of the reasons I became one was because it didn't seem to me to make a lot of sense to feed protein in the form of grain to animals - and then kill them for consumption – when we can eat the grain direct.

I also support higher welfare standards and more sustainable production methods; both things that I pursued during my time as Secretary of State for the Environment. We should also encourage people to eat a healthy diet, build food security and introduce additional programmes to help deliver some of the wider benefits of a sustainable and resilient food industry.  After all, the way in which we treat other people and sentient beings is the test of a civilised society.

The Labour Party believes that there are huge challenges facing the food and farming industry. It is clear that we need to produce more food without damaging the natural resources that we all depend on whilst promoting the highest possible animal welfare standards.

British food and farming is our largest manufacturing sector, employing over 3.5 million people. That is why we are committed to delivering a long-term vision for a sustainable and secure food system. The next Labour Government will ensure that Britain becomes a world leader in food policy and production to ensure that everybody has the chance to eat safe, healthy, affordable and sustainable food, now and in the future.

To achieve this we will reinstate the Food 2030 strategy – which I developed while at Defra - to coordinate food policy, so that everyone across the food system has a clear role to play.

We will champion consumer choice to better inform consumers about the food they eat and help them make informed choices.

We will work with food producers, farmers and fishermen to help meet global food demand and participate in international food markets but at the same time protecting and enhancing our natural resources.

There should be no arbitrary trade-off between food production and wider issues of sustainability, or between food affordability and the natural environment. Those who argue that you can either have affordable and plentiful food, or you can protect the soil, the water and biodiversity, are simply wrong to set out such a binary choice.

Finally, we must continue to reform the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and work towards the delivery of multiple objectives.  To do this the Labour Party will make better use of CAP money going towards protecting the natural environment whilst at the same time supporting farmers.

Hilary Benn

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