Update of the DEFRA Aims and Objectives since 2001
  I collected the raw material for the Context Analysis in May 2002, and I have used as my text the DEFRA 'Aims and Objectives' for 2001.

DEFRA has now published a prospectus "Working for the Essentials of Life" (April 2002). This is available online. I have included the first 4 pages of this in the documentation page - it begins with 'Our Vision', and continues with the latest version of 'DEFRA's Aims and Objectives". The document is notable for using natural colours throughout, and for the 'nice photographs' of happy children playing in the fields, and attractive market stalls.

1. The Context of Food Policy
2. Government and Policy
Aims and Objectives
Roles of Aims and Objectives
3. Policy Analysis
4. In-depth analysis of sub-topics
5. The Dispositive (Triangulation)
6. Summary
7. Conclusions

After April 2001, the Aim and Objectives were altered slightly from the previous ones, so that there were three aims (previously there was a complex single aim), and later in 2001, MAFF became DEFRA. The aims and objectives were then extensively re-worked, and they have changed again in the meantime. I have attempted to record some of these changes on a webpage.

For this project, I have concentrated on the post-April 2001 objectives, as stated here, though I describe some of the changes since then below and also on one of the sub-topic pages. I have studied these 2001 Aim and Objectives further because they seem to be the central point of the Government's efforts and intentions in the areas of food and agriculture. I have worked on a historical document - MAFF is now DEFRA, the Aims and Objectives have developed, as has their manner of presentation. I have decided to analyse the 2001 version, as it is an interesting point in time for the animal health crises, and also a stage in the development of 'the New Government'.

The updated Aim from the Prospectus is now:-

Sustainable development, which means a better quality of life for everyone, now and for generations to come, including:-
· A better environment at home and internationally, and sustainable use of natural resources
· Economic prosperity through sustainable farming, fishing, food, water and other industries that meet consumers requirements
· Thriving economies and communities in rural areas and a countryside for all to enjoy

Then there are seven objectives, which show considerable changes since the 2001 version.

The Aims and Objectives on the website at http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/aims/index.htm are even more recent than the prospectus. They are identical to those in the Prospectus, except: -

Objective 4 - To improve enjoyment of an attractive and well-managed countryside for all. - This has now been dropped entirely from the website.

Objective 7 (now 6) - To protect the public's interest in relation to environmental impacts and health, including in relation to diseases which can be transmitted through food, water and animals, and to ensure high standards of animal health and welfare (the italicised text has all been dropped)

To document the changes since 2001 would be a massive task, and to interpret them would be even more difficult (for example, the enjoyment and disease points have been dropped - no explanations are available to an outsider about the reasons for this).

On the DEFRA website http://www.defra.gov.uk/ >about DEFRA >aim and objectives (last accessed 2/9/2003) one reaches a page where there are four headings and links

  • Aim and Objectives (there is now one 3-part aim and six objectives)
  • Public Service Agreement - which specifies targets relating to the above aims
  • Vision Statement this is shown in the documents page
  • A Defra Prospectus - "This document, 'Working for the essentials of life' (1.2mb), covers the new Department's plans for sustainable development, food and farming, rural communities and reducing and managing risks. Copies have been sent to 3500 stakeholders and other groups including Parliamentarians, Cabinet members and the Devolved Administration Ministers."

The Prospectus can be downloaded or requested in printed form, and the cover and Vision Statement are copied in the documents page

I have also accessed the report of the Policy Commission into the Foot and Mouth outbreak. There is a Government website http://footandmouth.csl.gov.uk/ which gathers all the information and reports on the crisis. I have also copied the first few pages of the recommendations of the Policy Commission on this crisis to create another page. This report can be downloaded. I cannot see any change in policies following the crisis, and there is no response to industrialisation at the policy level either. I would even comment that the report assumes that the only possible future for agriculture is the free open market without any subsidies anywhere in the world. I view this as highly favourable to the industrialisation process, and the opposite of sustainability - a sustainable system must surely concentrate on locally-produced food with minimised energy inputs. To me there is a conflict between these two aspects of the Government rhetoric.

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