Here’s the third blog in our series of High Peak General Election candidate responses to our questions. The full, unedited responses for this question are available in this document: Candidates Responses-Q3.
What initiatives would you introduce that would support local food producers and farmers to sell their produce in an environment dominated by a small number of large food retailers?
Caitlin Bisknell (Labour)
As Leader of High Peak Borough Council Caitlin has championed schemes such as the Serpentine Farm in Buxton which aims to renovate the former council nursery to grow food and offer training, and Totally Locally Glossop which brings together local independent businesses. Caitlin also tries to use local shops as much as possible for all her shopping.
Caitlin would also work to improve access to public sector supply chains for local food producers and farms by encouraging the division of contracts into smaller lots they are able to bid for, such as through Derbyshire County Council’s Source Derbyshire and Trusted Trader schemes.
Labour would give local communities the tools they need to protect and improve nature and supports changes to the Common Agriculture Policy to do more to protect the environment.
Stephen Worrall (Liberal Democrats)
Farming support from the government should be focussed on ‘sustainable farming’, such as support for local food producers and farmers selling their produce locally. Stephen thinks there is a societal change happening, in which people care more where there food comes from and are willing to pay more for locally-produced and well-produced food. Central government should help accelerate this trend with information campaigns; local government could provide more support for farmers’ markets and similar food events.
UKIP’s policies on agriculture and fishing include: leaving the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy and instituting a British Single Farm Payment for farms; letting the British parliament vote on GM foods; leaving the Common Fisheries Policy and reinstating British territorial waters; making foreign trawlers apply for fishing permits to fish British waters when fish stocks have returned to sustainable levels; labelling food to include country of origin, method of production, method of slaughter, hormones and genetic additives; and abolition of the export of live animals for slaughter.
Andrew Bingham (Conservative)
Andrew says that there is becoming a more prevalent attitude to food provenance with people looking towards locally produced foods and ‘artisan’ ranges and, when given the chance, preferring to buy locally High Peak produced goods. Farm shops and farmers’ markets allow farmers to sell food and other produce direct to the general public. This benefits both farmer and consumer as it increases profit margins while offering locally produced fresh foods.
All the products on sale at farmers’ markets should have been grown, reared, caught, brewed, pickled, baked, smoked or processed by the stallholder. Such markets help cut out the middleman and improve financial returns; help producers receive direct customer feedback; reduce the costs of transport and packaging; have a regular market outlet, which is important for new producers, producers in organic conversion and small scale producers.
Charlotte Farrell (Green)
Charlotte says that the Greens will require local authorities and communities to draw up local food plans to safeguard and encourage local processing, distribution and retailing of produce; encourage non-commercial food production and community involvement in food growing, such as allotments, urban food growing, community orchards, and school gardens. In the long term, we will enable all communities to have access to and control of land that can be used for growing basic needs.
The Greens would also limit the power of supermarkets and global corporations, and use planning regulations to favour local markets. The Greens would also encourage local authorities to favour local suppliers in their procurement of food, such as schools using local produce.