The Soil Association has drawn up a list of questions to ask candidates on the doorstep or in the street.  Of course, these explore the Associaton’s priorities – but many (most?) of these are widely shared.  They are also questions that provide a rounded framework for exploring issues about farming and food with young people in schools.

Here’s what the Soil Association suggests:

Farming on the Doorstep: questions to ask your local candidates

With the general election fast approaching, political parties will be sending volunteers into their local communities to raise support for their candidates and encourage people to vote.  The next Government will be producing a new UK agricultural policy for the first time in decades.  With that in mind, this election gives voters the opportunity to put healthy food and environmentally sustainable farming at the centre of the political debate.  You don’t have to be an expert! Simply let candidates know that you care. If a canvasser or candidate knocks on your door, here are some suggested questions that you could ask – pick the ones that matter the most to you!

  • Soil protection: Healthy soils are fundamental to farm productivity, food security and climate change but British soils have become degraded in recent decades. What does the candidate plan to do to protect our soils?
  • Climate change: We must dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions if we want to stop climate change. Will the candidate back strong measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions from farming?
  • Farmer-led research: The UK spends £450million a year on agricultural research, but projects involving farmers get only a fraction. Will the candidate support increases in government funding for farmer-led research and innovation?
  • Organic food and farming: Organic farming methods benefit the environment and provide better animal welfare. Will the candidate commit to stronger support for UK organic farming in as part of their agricultural policy? 
  • Animal welfare: Clear method of production labelling is already required for eggs, but not for meat and dairy. That means it’s difficult for shoppers to know what farm animal welfare standards are in place. Will the candidate support making method of production labelling mandatory for all meat and dairy products?
  • Trade: The UK is already preparing to negotiate new free trade deals with countries around the world. Will the candidate fight to maintain the highest food safety, animal welfare, and environmental standards in all future trade agreements?
  • Child health: Last year the Health Select committee called for bold action to improve children’s diets. How will the candidate invest and improve children’s health?
  • Public procurement: Improving the quality of food served in schools, nurseries and other public settings can help people to eat well and can support local farmers. Will the party support widening public access to healthy, local and organic food and help build stable markets for farmers and growers?
  • Hospital food: The dietary health of older people in hospitals must be prioritised to improve public health. Will the candidate promise to make every NHS hospital a beacon of good food?