UK

Lib Dems tout food strategy after accusing Tories of being idle on rising prices

The party has said its food strategy would be a top priority for Defra, the government department which oversees agriculture.

Daisy Cooper said the cost of the weekly food shop ‘has got out of control’
Daisy Cooper said the cost of the weekly food shop ‘has got out of control’ (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The Liberal Democrats have accused the Conservatives of “standing idly by” while food prices grow, as the party launches its plans for a national food strategy aimed at curtailing costs.

Lib Dem deputy leader Daisy Cooper will be on the campaign trail in the east of England touting her party’s food strategy offer, which also aims to support British farmers.

The proposed national food strategy, which was revealed in the Lib Dem manifesto, would be backed up by a plan to boost the farming budget by £1 billion a year.

Under the Lib Dems, the strategy would be a top priority for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), and involve industry experts from agriculture, farming and fishing, and nutrition.

Henry Dimbleby, who helped to produce the Government’s existing national food strategy, was critical of the response to it from ministers, claiming it was “not a strategy” and may not do enough to combat poverty.

The Lib Dems’ proposals to bring down food prices also include renegotiating the Australia and New Zealand trade agreements in line with their objectives for health, environmental and animal welfare standards.

They also want to extend free school meals to all children in poverty in England and to cut “red tape” for British farmers and fishermen.

Ms Cooper said: “The Conservatives have been standing idly by whilst families and pensioners struggle to put food on the table.

“The cost of the weekly shop has got out of control yet the Conservative Party are too out of touch to care.

“The best way to bring down food prices is to back British farmers. Our farmers have been taken for granted by the Conservative Party, left to cope with sky-high energy bills and botched overseas trade deals.

“By bringing together the best of British farming and industry experts, the Liberal Democrats’ plan to bring down food bills will ease the pain on hard-pressed families and pensioners.”