Certainly, leaving the European Union gives us more flexibility on procurement, but I would like British suppliers and British public services—prisons, schools and so on—to buy British food not because they have to, even though it is more expensive, but because it is the best quality and the most cost-effective source. The way to get more British food on to British plates is to ensure that it is the best and that it is delivered at a cost-effective price.
Henry Dimbleby is leading the first major review of the UK food system in nearly 75 years. He will investigate across the entire food chain, carrying out an integrated analysis of our food system, resulting in a new national food strategy to be published in 2020. Only a couple of weeks ago, Henry attended an aquaculture workshop for the public sector, academia and officials hosted by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. I strongly encourage more engagement from the sector and devolved Administrations in this important undertaking.
It is only right to acknowledge the environmental and sustainability challenges that the aquaculture sector faces. They have been brought to the fore by two recent parliamentary inquiries in Scotland, which culminated in a debate in the Scottish Parliament that demonstrated broad cross-Chamber support for the sector, but emphasised that progress must be made on known issues such as sea lice.
At the end of March 2019, 111 aquaculture projects had been approved for funding under the European maritime and fisheries fund, with a value of approximately £14.5 million.