§ Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What are the objectives of the policy report for Ministers which is being prepared by the Local Food Sub-Group of the Working Group on Regional Food, led by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; and [HL4016]
What consultation with, and involvement of, the groups of the local food sector are to take place to inform developing policy for the report which is being prepared by the Local Food Sub-Group of the Working Group on Regional Food, led by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; and [HL4017]84WA
What role the Department of Health is playing in the preparation of the report by the Local Food Sub-Group of the Working Group on Regional Food, led by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; and [HL4018]
What advice they have taken from Food Links UK in particular and local food projects in general on translating Local Food—A Snapshot of the Sector into policy; and [HL4020]
What timescale has been agreed for the consultation on, and production of, the report being prepared by the Local Food Sub-Group of the Working Group on Regional Food, led by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. [HL4021]
§ Lord Whitty
The Curry commission report stated that one of the greatest opportunities for farmers to add value to their output was to build on the public's enthusiasm for locally produced food or food with a clear regional provenance. In response to this and building on the section on local food in the Government's wider Strategy for Sustainable Farming and Food Defra has produced a local food policy paper (http://www.defra.gov.uk/foodrin/goodname/locfoodpolicy.PDF) which looks at the claimed benefits of the local food sector and the rationale for public support, and sets out the framework within which such support will be given. To encourage the sector to develop Defra will focus its efforts where it can add value at national level, principally through national grant schemes, its public procurement initiative and spreading best local food practice nationwide. At a regional level the regional development agencies (RDAs) will endeavour to ensure there is properly co-ordinated public sector support for local food initiatives within their area and seek to address the problems of infrastructure which are hampering the development of the local food sector. Details of these measures will he contained in the regional plans which the RDAs are developing as part of the overarching delivery plan for the Government's Strategy for Sustainable Farming and Food.
Defra will liaise with other government departments on initiatives led by them which, while not focused exclusively on local food, have an impact on the local food sector. In the case of the Department of Health this includes the National School Fruit Scheme, the "Five a Day" community initiatives and the Food and Health Action Plan.
The local food policy paper was drawn up by the department following a series of meetings of the Defra Cross-Cutting Group on Regional Food. This group brings together RDAs, Government Offices of the Regions, the Countryside Agency, Food from Britain and the Food Standards Agency. To help inform its thinking the cross-cutting group commissioned a cross-departmental Local Food Working Group to carry out a detailed examination of the local food 85WA sector. The subsequent report, Local food—A snapshot of the Sector (http://www.defra.gov.uk/foodrin/specialfoods/localfood/index.htm) was published on 9 April.
In compiling its report, the Working Group on Local Food sought to review all the available evidence and to gather as many views as possible from a wide breadth of stakeholders. A written consultation of over 500 stakeholders was carried out, including Food Links UK arid its constituent members. The group also made visits to the local food sector in all the administrative regions of England. Many of these visits were facilitated by representatives from the various regional Food Links organisations. The working group also held a one-day workshop to enable a range of players and commentators in the local good arena to have an in-depth debate about the sector.
Finally, in drawing up the local food policy paper, we also took into account the recommendations of the Curry commission (themselves based on extensive consultation), together with the submissions which we received from over 1,000 organisations during the separate consultation exercise which the department carried out on the question of how to respond to the Curry recommendations.