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Of farming – and food security

  • by JW

“The current conundrum for our food security is this: who should pay for these unprecedented inflationary costs like fertiliser, fuel, gas, electricity, cardboard and plastic, to name but a few?”


Should we be worrying more about ‘food security’?

Running out of food: facing decisions about how to farm – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Ensuring food security – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Brexit, food security and the South West – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Two months ago, NFU President Minette Batters wrote to the Chancellor, providing “a frank assessment of the economic outlook for British agriculture given the significant challenges faced by the sector”:

Of farming – trade deals, standards, workers and subsidies – Vision Group for Sidmouth

This month, she is very much worrying about food security:

When I agreed to serve a third term as president of the National Farmers’ Union I naively thought: ‘Brexit has happened, the Covid pandemic is settling down into a new normal and two more years leading the NFU will allow me to finish the job.’ How very wrong I was…

Farmers in the UK are looking at an extra cost of £744 million to fertilise the UK wheat crop. To put that into context, my farm is a grassland farm, producing beef and lamb. Last year my nitrogen fertiliser bill was £8,750; this year for the same amount I’m looking at a cost of £35,000. Fertiliser costs to produce high-quality grain are higher still and many farmers will be thinking that they’ll revert to spring planting, thereby halving their costs and produce feed wheat that will be sold to the pig, poultry, dairy and livestock sector…

But the current conundrum for our food security is this: who should pay for these unprecedented inflationary costs like fertiliser, fuel, gas, electricity, cardboard and plastic, to name but a few? How many consumers can afford to pay £5.00 for a pack of six tomatoes or 80p for a pear?

There is no government in the world that wants to see consumers panic buying and creating food shortages – but failure by this government to act could well see double-digit contraction across all sectors, which will mean food shortages…

The UK and EU are in grave danger of being asleep at the wheel; a global food strategy has never been more needed because high-quality affordable food should be a human right for everyone.

The killing fields – The New European

The UK government says it is doing what it can:

Commitments on the Global Food Security Consequences of Russia’s War of Aggression against Ukraine – G7 Foreign Ministers, May 2022 – GOV.UK

But ‘food insecurity’ is being experienced by growing numbers of people:

More than 2m adults in UK cannot afford to eat every day, survey finds | Food poverty | The Guardian

‘Golden era’ of cheap food over as two in five Britons buy less to eat | Cost of living crisis | The Guardian

The ‘Briefings for Britain’ think tank contests the Government’s claim that the UK is close to self-sufficient in a range of key foods:

Much UK food production relies heavily on imported feed… it is diversity of suppliers that gives the UK food security not its own production.

George Eustice wrote an op-ed in the Telegraph on Easter Saturday entitled “We will help British farmers fill British fridges”. The subtitle was “Domestic production will be at the heart of the Government’s new food strategy”. Maybe Eustice wanted to plug his new Sustainable Farming Incentive and thought that tying it to self-sufficiency would be a good idea but unless the UK Government has commandeered this year’s harvest – food grown by private farmers could be sold to any user or country that is prepared to pay for it...

Now that the UK is out of the EU, it is time the UK agriculture sector re-joined the free market and left behind its socialist reliance on government payments.

Food security does not require self sufficiency – Briefings For Britain