Comment on Government food strategy

ECIU's Matt Williams comments on Government's new Food Strategy.

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By George Smeeton

Last updated:

Responding to the Government's new food strategy, Matt Williams, Climate and Land Programme Lead at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), said:

"In recent months we have been reminded how vulnerable our food system is: to war, to extreme weather, and to the volatile price of oil and gas. This leaves both families and farmers exposed to the pain of higher costs.

“The Government wants to support farmers to restore peatlands and woodlands that can store carbon. A leaked draft of the strategy suggested that funding for these net zero measures may have been slashed. At a time when the extreme weather impacts of climate change on crops and on food prices are so clear, such a move would have been odd. But the final strategy makes clear that working with farmers to restore nature remains at the heart of its plans, and that it understands that delivering for food security and net zero go hand in hand."

Notes to editors:

Breakdown of Government food strategy farmer funding plans

· Government had previously stated that by 2028 the new farming payment system (ELM, Environmental Land Management) would see the overall farming budget for England (around £2.1 billion per year) split evenly between the three parts of the system: the Sustainable Farming Incentive for measures taken by farmers to reduce emissions from fields and farms, for example by restoring soil health; Local Nature Recovery for restoring habitats like hedgerows and ponds on farms; and Landscape Recovery ( such as restoring peatlands or creating woodlands that could stretch across several farms. This would have seen around £700 million per year allocated to each of the three parts of the scheme.

· A leaked version of the Strategy suggested that funding for Landscape Recovery - woodlands and peatlands - might be severely, or entirely, cut. But the final version suggests that Government will adjust the allocation of funding to each of the three parts of the scheme based on both demand from farmers and the need to achieve its legally binding targets for net zero and nature.

· Defra had already opened the ELM Landscape Recovery fund and the 51 applications received, most of them from groups of farmers, suggests that there is significant demand for the fund (

Fertiliser costs

· In recent months fertiliser prices have reached record highs. Chemical fertilisers are made from natural gas and are highly energy-intensive, so their prices have been pushed higher than ever as gas prices have risen. One UK fertiliser plant has decided to shut down production, citing the high cost of gas. (

· Analysis by ECIU found that in 2021 UK farmers paid an extra £160 million for fertiliser compared to the previous year. (

For more information:

George Smeeton, Head of Communications, ECIU, Tel: 07894 571 153,