National Food Strategy public dialogue launched

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, NFS is working with Sciencewise, UKRI and the contractor, Hopkins Van Mil, to run some online engagement activities as part of this project.  We will provide more detail as this becomes available.

DEFRA’s National Food Strategy Team is beginning a dialogue, co-funded by the Sciencewise programme, to engage a diverse and inclusive cross-section of the public to deliberate on the priorities and outcomes of the forthcoming Food Strategy.

What is the National Food Strategy?

On 27 June 2019, DEFRA Secretary of State commissioned Henry Dimbleby to conduct an independent review to help the government create its first National Food Strategy for 75 years.

The scope of the review is to address the environmental and health problems caused by our food system, to ensure the security of our food supply, and to maximise the benefits of the coming revolution in agricultural technology.

The National Food Strategy will consider activity across several Departments, and is intended to be an overarching strategy for government, designed to ensure that our food system:

  • delivers safe, healthy, affordable food, regardless of where people live or how much they earn
  • is robust in the face of future shocks
  • restores and enhances the natural environment for the next generation in this country
  • is built upon a resilient, sustainable and humane agriculture sector
  • is a thriving contributor to our urban and rural economies, delivering well paid jobs and supporting innovative producers and manufacturers across the country
  • delivers all this in an efficient and cost-effective way

The Government has committed to responding with a White Paper six months after the final report from the review is published. It has also asked Henry Dimbleby to review progress 12 months after that. ​

Why a public dialogue now?

We want the National Food Strategy to be developed through a collaborative process, where the values and priorities of normal people are heard and understood, rather than guessed at or assumed. We understand that our society is diverse and we seek to listen to and exchange ideas with a wide variety of people throughout the formation of the National Food Strategy. The public dialogue process throughout the spring will lay valuable groundwork for us as we approach our Citizens Assembly in the autumn. It will also enable an increase in meaningful interaction between members of the public and subject matter experts; this will allow participants to form opinions and may empower them to make change within their lives and within their communities.

How will the outputs be used?

Dialogues are two-way and some of the output will be the knowledge and confidence discussing the food system which the participants will gain. We hope that this will be used to make change within their own lives and within their communities. The insight gathered by the National Food Strategy team from the public dialogues will be used to develop our planning of the Citizens Assembly as well as to inform our policy thinking and the formulation of the final recommendations.

How will the dialogue be structured?

We will be holding dialogue workshops across 5 separate locations in England, on two occasions, with up to 50 participants in each. Each dialogue workshop will last a full day. Subsequently, we will hold a National Summit in central London. As well as the workshops, a series of long-form interviews are being conducted, as a further route to ensure views from a wide variety of people reach us.

An Advisory Oversight Group will bring independent scrutiny to the project, and will help the National Food Strategy team develop materials for the public to use in their workshops. The Group includes stakeholders with a range of different perspectives and expertise on the topic.

The dialogue process is being designed and managed by Hopkins Van Mill: Creating Connections Ltd, following a mini competition organised via the Sciencewise framework of dialogue delivery contractors.

URSUS Consulting have been appointed to evaluate the project.

Find out more

Updates on the Independent Review, led by Henry Dimbleby, can be found on the National Food Strategy website.