15 May 2024
Farm to Fork Summit

The first Farm to Fork summit took place in May 2023.  These summits are now to become an annual event, with another summit due this Spring, at which the first draft Food Security Index will be published.  

I welcome that representatives from the whole food supply chain, including farmers, producers and retailers, came together at Downing Street at the last summit to identify ways that the Government and the food industry can work together to boost growth, drive innovation and improve sustainability. The summit built on the Food Strategy, published in June 2022, which set out the Government’s vision for a prosperous agri-food sector that ensures a secure food supply. 

Ministers confirmed a range of measures to help strengthen the long-term resilience and sustainability of the sector and provide greater stability for farmers following a difficult period caused by global challenges, including the illegal invasion of Ukraine which has contributed to rising costs. To give further certainty to the sector, the Government announced at the summit that 45,000 visas would be available again to the horticulture sector in 2023, enabling them to plan ahead for the picking season.  I understand that the same number of visas are available for 2024.

Further, I am aware that the Government is taking steps to protect the interests of farmers by ensuring they get a fair price for their produce. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has used powers under the Agriculture Act to improve transparency and contracts in the UK pork and dairy markets. Defra also announced additional reviews into the horticulture and egg supply chains, in light of the impact of global challenges on these sectors. The Government is also investing up to £30 million across the UK to drive forward the use of precision breeding technologies, demonstrating the UK’s leadership in this field.

Finally, I am aware that the Government will boost trade and export opportunities to get more British food on plates across the world, building on the £24 billion a year generated by our food and drink exports. I am assured that farmers’ interests are at the heart of trade policy through a new framework for trade negotiations, committing to protect the UK’s high food and welfare standards and prioritise new export opportunities.

Fruit & Vegetables Aid scheme  -

Fruit and vegetable growers who are part of a Producer Organisation (PO) have been able to access the EU-legacy Fruit & Vegetables Aid Scheme, which offers funding for actions that contribute to improved competitiveness, with particular focus on collaboration and productivity.

This has been funded by Defra’s Farming Programme since October 2020. PO's that take part have been awarded around £40 million per year in funding for a range of different measures, including those targeting improving product quality, along with environmental actions.  

 At the Farm to Fork Summit, the Prime Minister committed to replace the Fruit and Vegetables Aid Scheme when it comes to an end after 2025.

Following this announcement, Defra have been working to gather feedback from the sector and are continuing to work with producer organisations, cooperative growers, independent growers, controlled environment horticulture and representative organisations to help inform our overall plans for designing the replacement.