Food, Farming and Countryside

Britain’s food system is broken. For every £1 we spend on food, we spend another £1 in hidden costs. These costs are externalised into areas that don’t appear on the balance sheet – health, environment, animal welfare, and the wellbeing of food producers and wider rural communities.
Successive governments have sacrificed long-term prosperity – our natural capital – for short-term gain. We propose a holistic approach to support our farmers, restore nature, revitalise rural communities, ensure food security and improve the national diet. The SDP’s plan for a resilient food system and thriving countryside is presented in full in our green paper Farms, Fields and Food.


  • Subsidies will be set at a sufficient level to enable farmers to produce food sustainably, targeting the most intensive and polluting sectors where the greatest impact can be achieved. Ultimately, we aim to remove dependence on subsidies by aiding transition to more profitable farming methods and ensuring producers are paid a fair price, but support will be guaranteed for as long as needed.

  • We will invest in agricultural technology and farmer-led research and innovation to make high-yield farming less environmentally damaging and small-scale farming more efficient.

  • At least 90% of existing farmland will be maintained for agriculture. Nature restoration projects will be targeted to non-food producing land and least-productive farmland. Best and most versatile farmland will be protected from all other land use types.

  • Through tax incentives and planning reform we will reverse the decline in small farms and restore diversity of farm size across the UK. A land acquisition scheme funded by inheritance tax will be used to create new market gardens, orchard villages, small farms and smallholdings. We will prohibit the sale of county farms by local authorities, and prevent the sale of any food-producing land to non-UK citizens or entities.

  • Community Housing Groups will be established to provide affordable housing in rural areas ring-fenced for local working families. We will reverse decades of economic neglect to reinvigorate rural communities through investment in infrastructure, mobile and broadband connectivity, public transport and policing.

  • We will re-establish land-based colleges and invest in apprenticeships and mentoring schemes to facilitate access to farming, forestry, horticulture and other rural careers. The integration of food and farming into the school curriculum will be strengthened and will include farm visits and practical home economics and cooking classes.

  • Trade deals will not be allowed to disadvantage British farmers and food producers. A Buy British policy will be adopted for public sector procurement, with an emphasis on local sourcing. Both raw and processed foods will carry clear country of origin and animal welfare labelling.

  • We will support the establishment of regional Charter Co-operatives and marketing boards, enabling farmers, food producers and retailers to work together to process and sell food locally at viable prices. The Charter Co-op scheme will make healthy food universally available and affordable. We will establish infrastructure grants to improve the resilience and sustainability of local food networks.


Family, Community, Nation.