RE David Drew’s opinion piece ‘Brexit’s profound effect on food policy’.

Politics and policy are having to move in ways that could not have been expected before 2016, and agriculture and the countryside are no exception.

The Government’s Command Paper ‘Health and harmony: the future for food, farming and the environment in a Green Brexit’ is complex and wide-ranging.

Our MP, as Shadow Farming and Rural Affairs Minister, is right to challenge some of the big changes to the system. In other words, the shift in funding support to land owners according to the environmental ‘public good’ that they provide.

It is worth noting that a ‘public good’ is one that is non-excludable, non-rival and jointly supplied.

A stable climate is one example of a pure public good.

If it is the case that the concentration of policy will be focusing on addressing climate change head-on in terms of mitigation, then the report is to be welcomed.

Nevertheless, the report focuses on enhancing the environment for a wide range of other reasons, which are not entirely about providing a ‘public good’.

However, in terms of Stroud’s agrarian landscape it is worth noting the campaigns and efforts that have taken place in the local context. The food provisioning among the farmers in the district has historically changed significantly.

Ten years ago in 2008 a district report was published called ‘Food Availability in Stroud District’.

The aim was to address the already well-known food vulnerabilities within the district. Following that, in 2012 a ‘Food Strategy’ group was formed to encourage more local food related initiatives.

More recently a report ‘A Food and Horticultural Belt’ worked on ways to initiate farming and food provisioning based on county and district policy actions.

The key arguments in these three examples of local response match precisely with what our MP is arguing.

How do we continue to support and encourage the local, small-scale farmers and food providers?

The national focus is partly neglecting the local food focus but these existing initiatives within Stroud should be recognised more openly.

Dr Nick James