What is the Food (Wales) Bill?
Last month, the potentially transformational Food (Wales) Bill failed to progress after being opposed by the Welsh Government in a 25-24 vote defeat largely along party lines.
Over the last year, the Bill gained widespread support from key stakeholders across the food system, affording the opportunity to develop joined-up, ambitious proposals, placing food systems at the centre of policy in Wales. The Bill's intent was to take a systemic approach with objectives that included promoting sustainable food production, improving access to healthy and affordable food, supporting local farmers and food businesses, and enhancing food education and awareness.
Despite the Bill’s defeat, there is now a greater consensus on the need for change and joined up policy across government, with the Senedd making a series of commitments to improve the food system in Wales. Such commitments include the formation of a cross-government forum for more joined-up policy, and an investigation into the possibility of a food strategy.
Looking to the future
“We now look forward to continuing to work with the Welsh Government, Senedd Members and others on commitments made, with the urgency required, to help build on the momentum generated by the Food (Wales) Bill to help develop a fairer, sustainable and economically viable food system for Wales that’s fit for future generations.”
Wildlife Trusts Wales looks to the future and describes a food system that serves multiple goals:
“Wales should aim for a resilient food system that contributes to the environmental, social, and economic resilience of farming as a whole. This approach must address the many crises Wales faces, including nature’s decline, climate change impacts, and increasing health problems.” Rachel Sharp, Wildlife Trusts Wales
The upcoming Community Food Strategy aims to better incorporate local, small-scale producers into the food system in Wales. Therefore it has the potential to amplify the voices of those influencing and progressing community health and sustainability, better integrating social justice within food policy. Food Policy Alliance Cymru has said that:
“...community-scale food infrastructures and mechanisms can enable the delivery of objectives set out across government departments and policy agendas and….a central food policy, such as the Community Food Strategy, could achieve these changes.”
The Eating Better ‘Better by Half’ roadmap calls for governments to deliver a cross-departmental food and farming strategy with sustainable and healthy dietary guidelines underpinning all policy development.