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The Role of Government

The role of government in the food chain.

Senator Ian Marshall, business development manager at the Institute for Global Food Security (IGFS), independent senator in the Seanad Éireann and dairy farmer in Northern Ireland, discusses the role of government in the food sector.

The overall role of the government in the food chain is to deliver sustainable, secure and healthy food to address the challenges of climate change, food security and to feed the nation.

There are four main pillars of government policy:

  • Evidence based policy-making
  • Funding
  • Monitoring
  • Enforcement

In particular, the government has a number of key objectives:

  • To support and develop sustainable food production
  • To enhance the environment and biodiversity
  • To improve the quality of life for the flora, animals, wildlife and people
  • To support a strong and sustainable economy

In relation to the agri-food chain, the government has a key role in:

  • Improving Competitiveness: Helping to improve the food chains competitiveness, growth and integrity. The government considers trade, research and development, innovation and addressing market failure.

  • Encouraging Sustainability: Improving the resilience of the food chain and materials, achieving global food security, encouraging ‘green projects’, ensuring a low carbon footprint and resource efficiency.

  • Consumer Information: Better labelling in terms of country of origin; legislation around the composition and ingredients of food and the nutrient value of food; and communicating that message to the consumer

  • Socio-economic benefits: Promotion of availability and consumption of healthier food for a healthier nation.

Evidence Based Policy

Government engages with various actors in order to support the integrity of the food chain and make evidence based and informed decisions:

  • Directorates
  • Sectoral specialists
  • Operational research
  • Economists
  • Statisticians
  • Policy and evidence specialists
  • Other government departments
  • Funders
  • Industry
  • Enforcers
  • Researchers

A look to the future

As we look to the future, the government will continue to make evidence based policy making. Water scarcity is going to be a massive global concern and climate change adaption will be a central component of all government policy. The demographics are changing and consequently there are social changes happening – shifting eating patterns, dietary trends, concerns around global obesity and healthy nations will continue to influence government policy, coupled with food trends and food consumption patterns.

Governments will be more engaged in innovation; research and development; and technology adoption to deliver solutions to some of our problems. Governments will increasingly focus on security and resiliency of and in the supply chain, including an evaluation on value for money and impact.

What we would like you to do

Please share your thoughts on the government’s role in the food chain:

  • Do you think the government’s role in the food chain is important?
  • Do you think government’s can influence the resiliency of the food chain and the health of our nation? Explain your reasons.

Please note that due to Covid-19, all our video contributors had to record themselves using a laptop or smartphone. As a result, the audio quality is not optimal. We apologize for the inconvenience. Should you want to better understand the video content, we have provided the English audio transcript in the downloads section below

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Understanding Food Supply Chains in a Time of Crisis

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