Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Minister of Neglect?

Part of the recent RES did contain information about how Islanders might cope with prolonged bad weather and food shortages (but not strategy to ameliorate this problem):

Although a small proportion (3%) of people were unsure how long it would be before their household ran out of food at home, a third of people (32%) judged that their household would run out of food in ‘a few days’, and a slightly higher proportion felt they would last ‘about a week’

Having looked at this many times in the past, and banging my head on a brick wall is the appropriate cliche, on January 2018, I made yet another Freedom of Information request about Food Security, a very important matter, but one which seems to have been sidelined by the Minister promoting other more glamorous and publicity gaining events.

The last FOE request for progress on the Food Security Strategy only came up with the old 2012 Food Security Strategy. A revision was supposed to be part of the new Rural Economy Strategy, but was not.

As recent severe weather shows, it does not take long for shelves to empty in Supermarkets. Delta Innovation were also working on a Draft Food Security strategy for the States of Jersey, as was shown on their website.

Please can I have:

1. Details of any progress towards a newer Food Security Strategy by the States than that 6 years ago (when the Co-Op had local warehousing to deal with freight shortages, now closed).

The original 2012 Draft Food Security Strategy (DFSS 2012) was produced as part of the 2011-2015 Rural Economy Strategy (RES). Elements of the draft strategy were implemented during this period as business as usual. 

 It was anticipated that residual elements of the draft strategy would be picked up and embedded in the following RES which was due to run concurrently from 2016-2020. The publication of the new 2016 RES was delayed by one year, whilst the Medium Term Financial Plan was finalised by the States of Jersey and due to initial caution around the impact of Brexit.

As part of the RES review an updating of the DFSS was commissioned and a first draft was received in May 2017. Revisions are being considered with a view to publishing the report on the States of Jersey website in February 2018.

It should be noted that this is a ‘Review of Jersey’s Food Security’ rather than a strategy. As such, there are no recommendations but a series of options to consider in advance of the mid-term review of the current RES in 2018/19.

It includes reference to the 2017 RES in particular as this relates to the ability to produce food. There is some mention in the main text, but more importantly the options sections highlights where the RES has already covered these off.

My comments:

Having had broken commitments in FOE requests for Food Security, now what we have is not a strategy but a simple review of the situation, which is clearly just the first stage, and despite the fact that until this FOE, a strategy was promised. I look forward to seeing the “list of options to consider”, with hopefully some details on the pros and cons of each. Clearly this is sitting on the election fence - no recommendations.

The Rural Economy Strategy, first mooted  for 2016 (according to FOE requests) was, according to the Minister on BBC Radio 4, due to come out on 24 January. BBC News reported this:

"Jersey's Economic Development minister has rejected claims his department has taken two years to come up with a plan for the island's farming industry. [Redacted], an islander who grows organic produce, said delays in publishing a clear plan for Jersey's countryside shows a lack of interest in farming. He said he'd been asking for almost two years where the Rural Economic Strategy is. But Minister Senator Lyndon Farnham expressed surprise at the criticism, saying a new plan will be published tomorrow."

In this case, tomorrow was only two days later. But I suppose that’s rather efficient for economic development. The report contained anecdotal material which highlighted why a food strategy was needed but no strategy as such, despite previous promises that it would be forthcoming.

I’m always highly suspicious of the “Sir Humphrey” language such as “with a view to publishing” which allows wriggle room for failing to publish. Why not say "will be published in February"? But how could we expect a commitment when none has come to fruition before, for example with this promise:

“A draft food security strategy is being prepared and will be integrated within the new Rural Economy Strategy (RES) due to be published in autumn 2016."

The RES, we are told (see above, and not the term "food security STRATEGY) in an FOE request made in January 2016, was delayed for a year because of Brexit! That’s one of the most feeble excuses I have ever heard.

The Brexit Referendum was 23 June 2016. Are we to take it that the bulk of the work towards a Rural Economy Strategy was not underway in mid-June, even though it was "being prepared" in January 2016 and if there had been no Brexit, it would have been ready for publishing in autumn 2016? It would take all of three months to finalise!

When it did come out, the RER showed very little about Brexit which could impact on food security, it was mainly about exports, and how this would need to be monitored. Why use plain English, however, when Sir Humphrey is ever ready with his quill pen:

“In addition, the impacts of Brexit are difficult to quantify, however, agriculture and fisheries are a key Brexit work stream, and a sub-group within Government has been established to lead consultation with key stakeholders within the rural economy to ensure that relevant matters are considered in the Brexit dialogue and in discussions between Jersey and the UK”

The jargon generator was working overtime and running hot.

2. Details (redacted if need be) of correspondence by email with Delta Innovation on their project.

The parameters of your request are too wide. Searching all correspondence from the relevant Department with Delta Innovation would not be possible within 12.5 working hours. Article 16 of the Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law 2011 has therefore been applied

3. Information as to whether the Delta Project proceeded to fruition or is still in progress.

Please see response to part 1.


The answer to Part 1 contains no mention of the project by Delta Innovation. This is no response!! Don't the people collating information for FOE actually read what they have written?

4. Details of who the Minister (or Ministers) whose remit is Food Security

The Minister for Economic Development, Tourism, Sports & Culture holds ministerial responsibility for food security.


This goes a long way to explain matters - procrastination, prevarication, and clearly a Minister who just doesn’t see it as a priority. A Minister of neglect!

See also:


"A draft food security strategy is being prepared and will be integrated within the new Rural Economy Strategy (RES) due to be published in autumn 2016." (FEO request 18 January 2016)


"The Isle of Man adopted policies in 2014 on food security."

And Jersey still has.... None!

Read the blog for the key points of the IOM strategy.

This is also the blog which mentions:

Delta Innovation have produced “A draft Food Security Strategy for the States of Jersey” which says:

We worked with the States of Jersey to develop a draft Food Security Strategy, which set out four objectives for food security on Jersey;
  • To secure the availability of food
  • To secure the affordability of food
  • To secure the ability to produce food
  • To secure against supply shocks.

Their work seems to have vanished without trace!


My first post on the matter.

2014 was an election year, and Lyndon Farnham was elected Senator, and became the new Minister for Economic Development, Tourism, Sports and Culture. Otherwise known as the Minister for Empty Shelves.

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