Urgent action needed to protect UK’s food supply

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New report highlights the urgent challenges in UK food supply, with global shocks and rising costs, says county advisor Gemma Harvey

On 28th July, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee (EFRA) published its Food Security report. The report considers the current challenges facing UK food supply and the importance of food security. It especially considers the impact on households of high input prices – like energy and fertiliser – and consumer food prices.The government’s own UK Food Security Report was published in December 2021, but given recent global shocks such as the COVID pandemic and the war in Ukraine, the EFRA report argues that the 2021 report is already out of date.
NFU President Minette Batters gave evidence to the EFRA committee as part of the process back in November 2022. She took the opportunity to lay bare the current issues facing farmers, and expressed the need for action to protect the UK’s food security. She called for a joined-up approach across government and highlighted how unprecedented rising costs have had a huge impact in all sectors.
As part of her evidence, Minette detailed the results of the NFU’s 2022 farming intentions surveys, with responses demonstrating that farmer’s cropping plans showed contraction for 2023. She used specific examples of tomatoes and cucumbers, being at their lowest levels since records began in 1985.

The report response
In her response to the EFRA report’s publication, Minette said: ‘The NFU has been calling for Government to take our national food security seriously for several years. We echo the committee’s recommendation for strong leadership on the issue.
‘As part of this leadership, the need for all Government departments to have a
co-ordinated approach towards food policy is vital. We welcome the recommendation of a Cabinet Office review into all aspects of food policy.
‘At such a tricky time for many UK households, the report addresses many of the inflationary pressures experienced by both families and farmers and growers. Everyone should have access to affordable, good quality, sustainable food and British farmers and growers need the support of Government to have the confidence to continue producing. The report’s finding that only 54 per cent of the food eaten in the UK is being grown here is shocking – it is concerning that this figure could decrease further if British food and farming aren’t valued.
‘Food security matters. British farmers and growers are well placed to provide climate-friendly food for the nation, while protecting and enhancing our iconic countryside.
‘Last summer the Prime Minister committed to introducing a new self-sufficiency target and annual reporting. Clearly this needs to happen as a matter of urgency. With one of the best climates in the world for producing food, we should be aiming to produce more food here in the UK.
‘For this to continue to happen, we need to see the government act on the recommendations made by the committee to bolster Britain’s food security.’

sponsored by Trethowans Law. As it should be

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