This article first appeared on the Farmers Guardian following our Turning the Food System Round session with Compassion in World Farming, you can view the original here.
Unhealthy food produced in an ‘inhumane’ way should be taxed in order to lower the price of ‘quality’ products such as fruit, vegetables, legumes and whole grains, according to a new report from Compassion in World Farming (CIWF).
Examples of food which would be taxed under such a regime include ‘industrially reared’ meat, a definition of which is not provided in the report.
Meat from ‘well-managed’ pasture-based herds, integrated rotational crop-livestock systems, free range and extensive indoor systems would not be taxed.
‘Quality farmers’ would also be rewarded with tax breaks, such as generous capital allowances, under the regime proposed by CIWF.
These would be funded by taxes on pesticides and fertilisers.
Speaking at a meeting of the Agroecology All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) this week (July 1), Peter Stevenson, chief policy adviser at CIWF and the author of the report, said: “We have devised a very distorted economic system which takes account of some costs, such as housing the animals, but ignores others, such as the detrimental impact of industrial farming on health, the environment and welfare.
“How can we mend our price system? We could support the consumption of healthy, sustainable, humane food by putting taxes on unhealthy, inhumane food. This would be internalising the negative externalities of that food.
“We could then use the revenue raised by these taxes to lower the price of certain foods, in particular to subsidise food which is healthy and produced to high environmental and animal welfare standards.
“It is essential we do not increase the price of food, we just need to change the relative price of healthy and unhealthy foods.”
Other recommendations in the CIWF report include banning retailer promotions on ‘unhealthy’ products, ensuring public bodies buy ‘better quality’ food without increasing costs by reducing meat consumption and introducing mandatory method of production labelling on meat and dairy products.