Sunday, 25 Jul 2021

Brexit Britain’s green revolution: New report shows major shift could create 200,000 jobs

Brexit: Barnier says things will be 'more difficult' for UK

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The latest report from food and farming charity Sustain and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), entitled The Case for Local, claim the huge move could support a green economic recovery and restore nature. They are urging Boris Johnson and his Conservative Party Government to use post-Brexit investment funds to fill local food infrastructure gaps in order to drive through numerous environmental and social benefits.

The charities’ report defines “local” as food that is produced within a short distance of where it is consumed.

This, they say, often comes with a social structure and supply chain including co-ops, home delivery box schemes and markets, which is in huge contrast to the vast and wide-ranging UK supermarket system.

The report says every £10 spent with the box scheme results in £25 spent in the local area versus £14 when the same amount is spent in a supermarket.

Both charities cite a recently-released survey of vegetable box schemes that showed that more than two thirds (67 percent) of 101 producers were “small-scale”.

Despite this, these box schemes still regularly supply up to 300 boxes a week to local communities.

A separate study of 228 box schemes across four countries, including 147 from the UK, found more than four in 10 (41 percent) used produce from their own farms and over three quarters (76 percent) within 100km.

This report added more than two thirds (70 percent) of beans peas and asparagus in UK supermarkets are freighted in by air.

These findings come ahead of the release of the second instalment of Henry Dimbleby’s National Food Strategy, which will be published later this week.

This is predicted to make several crucial recommendations on food productions, while also arguing support from the Government to fill remaining infrastructure gaps could help local food businesses access £2 billion of contracts.

Sustain deputy chief executive Ben Reynolds argued if the Government makes investments in infrastructure and gets behind policies to drive change, the benefits could be significant and wide-ranging.

He said: “UK farmers, food producers and the public could all benefit by increased opportunities to buy local food if the Government acts now and invests in the much-needed infrastructure and commits to policies that drive change.

“One in seven jobs in this country is in food and farming, so it deserves the support it needs to thrive.”

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Lucy Bjorck, senior policy adviser at the RSPB, said the Government’s climate change drive, could be boosted by moving more food retail to local sources.

She added: “By shifting more of our food retail to local, nature-friendly sources, the Government could help restore nature to the countryside and tackle climate change.

“A thriving local food economy supports diverse farming systems which bring benefits for nature by sustaining a diversity of habitats and management.

“By offering produce with lower production emissions, local food systems can cut our carbon footprint, reconnect people with seasonal eating and reduce waste.”

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