Agenda item

Food and Farming Strategy

To receive an update on the food and farming strategy.


Benjamin Dent, Gloucestershire Food and Farming Partnership, delivered a presentation on Gloucestershire’s Food and Farming sector.


The Committee was informed that Gloucestershire had a competitive advantage for growth in the food and farming sector, given that almost 15% of Gloucestershire’s workforce was already employed within the sector; the sector contributed to almost 9% of the local economy in 2017; and the County was home to leading expertise in this sector, including the Royal Agricultural University and Campden BRI.


Members noted that a 10% shift in the food retail market towards more sustainable local food systems could yield up to 200k more jobs nationally.


Members were informed of the potential to increase tourists’ spending on food and produce in the County, given that £340m was currently generated annually in Gloucestershire by tourist spending on food.


There was an opportunity to improve Gloucestershire’s health through the production and promotion of local healthy food. More than 60% of adults in the County were currently deemed to be overweight, which impacted on public health and finances.


Members were advised that the sector could also have a role in addressing food poverty within Gloucestershire, as well as climate change concerns.


It was explained that by looking at the food and farming sector holistically, shorter supply chains could increase local farm viability, growth and employment in the sector, as well as improving the health of local populations, reducing food poverty and reducing carbon footprints.


Members were informed that the Gloucestershire Food and Farming Partnership aimed to build on the strengths of the County’s food and farming sector. This included supporting businesses which contributed to localised food supply chains; considering opportunities which could be funded through the Rural England Prosperity Fund; building on the opportunities provided through the Environmental Land Management Scheme; promoting the career opportunities of the sector amongst young people; opening up public procurement contracts to local suppliers; and expanding the Food for Life’s whole school approach.


Benjamin Dent continued to explain the Partnership’s ambition to establish a long-term evidence-based farming and food strategy. To inform the strategy, the Partnership hoped to map the organisations and local government departments responsible for food and farming policymaking in Gloucestershire. The Committee was asked to support the development of this mapping exercise.


Several members welcomed the opportunities that could be provided through a holistic approach to food and farming in the County, and also welcomed the proposal that the Committee support the development of the mapping exercise. 


One member sought clarification on the purpose of the mapping exercise, whilst another stated that the Committee needed to be mindful of its remit when making any recommendations. 


One member asked whether the Partnership could look into low cost healthy food options for those most in need in the most deprived communities, particularly given the current cost of living crisis. In response, Benjamin Dent explained that the Feeding Gloucestershire partnership was exploring opportunities to support communities experiencing food issues. Changes to the planning system in order to promote a greater diversity of shops on local high streets needed to be considered, and education also played a role in teaching families how to cook food.


Following a discussion as to whether it was within the remit of the Committee to make a recommendation on the mapping exercise; as well as where the recommendation would best be directed, the Committee agreed the following recommendation:


The GEGSC recommends that Leadership Gloucestershire considers working in partnership with the Gloucestershire Food and Farming Partnership to map the organisations and local government departments responsible for food and farming policymaking and delivery in Gloucestershire.




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