Transparent food labelling pledge at OFC

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Environment Secretary Steve Barclay used the Oxford Farming Conference to announce measures to improve transparency in food labelling and ensure that high-quality British food stands out.

He believes this will help empower consumers to make informed decisions both in the supermarket and while shopping online, while also backing British farmers.

They include consultation on proposals over clearer food labelling, such as highlighting where imported products do not meet UK welfare standards and consistent labelling where food meets the highest standards.

Mr Barclay will also speak with major online retailers to identify ways to better support online customers and help them understand the origin of food products at the point of purchase, including the option of a Buy British Button.

He said: “British farmers take pride in producing food that meets and often exceeds, our world-leading animal welfare and environmental standards.

“British consumers want to buy this top-quality food, but too often products produced to lower standards overseas aren’t clearly labelled to differentiate them.

“This is why I am proud to announce that we will consult on clearer food labelling so we can tackle the unfairness created by misleading labelling and protect farmers and consumers.”

The improvements to the farming schemes announced also include additional support for farmers and landowners who choose to create, maintain and upgrade permissive footpaths, cycle paths and bridleways on their land.

This will reduce barriers to accessing green spaces and encourage more people to get out and explore England’s countryside, farmland and woodland, giving them a greater understanding of how our food is produced and improving physical and mental wellbeing.

Farmers who provide greater access to their land will receive funding through new actions on offer in the government’s farming schemes next year. The revised 2024 offer will also see the expansion of the popular Educational Access scheme to create more opportunities for young people to learn about and engage with farming, forestry, food production, wildlife and the wider landscape.

This delivers on key commitments in the Environmental Improvement Plan to improve access to nature and sits alongside a host of actions to support farmers to maintain current levels of food production while delivering positive outcomes for the environment.

Farmers will continue to receive support under the scheme for items including maps, way markers and fencing to mark out permissive access and help people enjoy farmland and woodland responsibly.

The Government also continues to work with farmers and landowners to stress the importance of all visitors to the countryside following the Countryside Code, which includes rules such as following local signs, cooperating with farmers when animals are being moved, keeping dogs under control and in sight, and taking all litter home.

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