Examination of Witnesses

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:57 pm on 13th February 2020.

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Vicki Hird:

Thank you for reminding me about the public health purpose. We think it would be very easy to insert it into the Bill. There are so many ways it is already designed to help, for instance with air pollution and with reducing exposure to plant protection products, which can be harmful. We think that saying that there is a public health purpose for agriculture would recognise what an important thing farmers do in providing us with healthy, safe food. It could help by showing that having animal health and welfare measures that help farmers to manage their stock and change their stocking patterns can reduce the reliance on antibiotics, which we know is an absolute global public good, in order to protect our medicinal antibiotics.

The other area is the huge need to boost our supply of fruit and veg, so that people can have access to closer-to-home, more affordable, fresh, sustainably produced fruit and vegetables. That is absolutely central to a healthier diet for the nation. To be able to say that we were doing that would be a benefit. As James was saying about procurement, we could be saying something about procurement and investing in healthier diets for our children in schools.