§ Mr. Bradshaw
[holding answer 26 June 2003]: I have been asked to reply.
The level and nature of support for local food chains provided by Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) and Government Offices (GOs) varies from region to region. The extent of this support will be determined by each region's priorities.
(a) RDAs are already providing support for initiatives such as research, pilot projects, local food groups, promotional activities and farmers markets. In addition, within the context of their regional economic strategies, each RDA, working closely with the GO and other relevant interests, is developing a regional plan to help deliver the Government's Strategy for Sustainable Farming and Food. Within these plans RDAs will be addressing issues such as:
the production and supply of local produce by encouraging food hubs and shared facilities for food businesses;
marketing of local food by linking local food producers with local retailers and tourism businesses; and
public procurement through the development of projects with local authorities and other public sector organisations to enable local food producers to bid for contracts on more equal terms.325W
(b) Although GOs do not have funding to encourage local food chains they do carry out a number of services to support the local food sector. The GOs provide a signposting to and advice on the various sources of funding which include 'national' grants such as those under the England Rural Development Programme as well as the area based structural funds through the Leader and Objective 1 programmes. In addition, the GOs can provide a co-ordination role in sharing best practice amongst producers, processors and retailers.