The United Kingdom said on Monday that it would emphasize food security in its new agricultural policy, with money targeted at increasing output to help safeguard consumers from economic shocks. Campaigners for more sustainable farming were underwhelmed with the preliminary proposal.

Until 2029, the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs will spend £270 million ($332 million) on agricultural innovation and initiatives. The planning permit procedure will also be examined to promote glasshouse projects in an effort to minimize imports, and the government has said that it would comment on labeling and procurement laws in order to increase local manufacturing.

The action comes as global food prices hit record highs, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which significantly cut essential shipments of grains and vegetable oils from that country. This has contributed to the strains caused by the epidemic and high energy and input prices. Boris Johnson’s administration in the United Kingdom is attempting to handle a cost-of-living issue that has harmed his governing Conservative Party in polls.

“Harnessing new technologies and innovation, we will grow and eat more of our own food — unlocking jobs across the country and growing the economy, which in turn will ultimately help to reduce pressure on prices,” Johnson said in the statement.

British farmers are likewise struggling to find adequate workers, a situation aggravated by Brexit. The government has said that it would conduct an impartial study and will also expand the seasonal worker visa option for poultry.

Nonetheless, activists say the policy falls short of addressing the environmental effect of farming or the millions of people who cannot afford a nutritious diet.

“No one in leadership in government appears to have really grasped the scale and urgency of the challenges posed to our health and our planet by the food system,” Anna Taylor, executive director of The Food Foundation, said in a statement. “These challenges are growing exponentially with the cost of living crisis.”

Source: Bloomberg

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