The UK government has published its long-awaited food strategy, to a mixed response.

Touted as the Johnson administration's plan to increase food security, tackle rising food costs and make the nation healthier, the paper has been largely welcomed by farming organisations, with support for targets to produce more food domestically.

However environmental and health organisations have criticised the paper for a 'lack of ambition' and failing to address the obesity crisis and food poverty.

Key points in the strategy were a promised £270 million to be invested in technology to increase productivity and profitability. The government will consult on an ambition for 50% of public sector food spend to go on food produced locally or certified to higher standard. A framework will be published next year on how to help farmers grow more food while also meeting legally binding targets to halt climate change and nature loss.

Planning permission is to become easier for vast greenhouses covering acres of land to enable more fruit and vegetables to be grown domestically. An additional 10,000 seasonal worker visas will be made available this year, largely aimed at the poultry sector following the successful trial last year, increasing the number of visas from 30,000 to 40,000.

The Government stopped short of extending free school meals eligibility, but it has made access to the benefit permanent for those who have no recourse to public funds.

NFU president Minette Batters said: “The strategy represents a clear milestone. The government is recognising the importance of domestic food production, maintaining our productive capacity and growing more food in this country, particularly at a time when the war in Ukraine has focused attention on the importance and fragility of our global food security. Food production will always be core to a nation’s resilience and I’m pleased the government has recognised this.

Read more: Food security is as strategically important as defence funding

“Domestic food production and environmental delivery go hand-in-hand and we are proud that British farmers have an ambition to reach net zero by 2040, while still maintaining our current levels of food production.

“We know the public want to be eating more local, British food and farmers are ready to play their part in producing high quality and climate-friendly food, all while protecting and enhancing our environment. We now need to see this strategy develop into clear delivery and investment to capitalise on the benefits food and farming delivers for the country, such as our world-leading standards of animal welfare, environmental protection and food safety.”

However the paper did not include many of the proposals from last year’s government-commissioned National Food Strategy by restaurateur Henry Dimbleby. The government will not be implementing a £3 per kg tax on sugar and a £6 per kg tax on salt in food products, as Mr Dimbleby had suggested.

Furthermore it will not be taking steps to reduce meat consumption by 30%. Mr Dimbleby stated: “Careful livestock farming can be a boon to the environment, but our current appetite for meat is unsustainable – 85% of farmland is used to feed livestock. We need some of that land back.”

Louisa Casson, head of food and forests at Greenpeace UK, added: “By ignoring climate scientists and its own experts in favour of industry lobbyists, the government has published a strategy that, ultimately, will only perpetuate a broken food system and see our planet cook itself.”

The British Heart Foundation called the report a ‘missed opportunity’ for driving better health for the nation.