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Running out of food: facing decisions about how to farm

  • by JW

“Several countries across Europe have already instructed their farmers to abandon the green policies beloved of the ‘woke’ urbanites, and ‘get ploughing’.”


Science and politics – and food and geography – have come together to mean that we might well be facing food shortages:

BBC Radio 4 – BBC Inside Science, Global food security during Ukraine conflict

The rich Western economies will not be facing hunger – but it will be facing decisions about how to farm to feed its people:

Guess from where the U.N. World Food Programme sourced more than half of its supplies for the hungry across the globe in 2021? Yes, Ukraine.When this “breadbasket of Europe” is knocked out of supply chains and aid networks, the world is going to feel it.

The war between Russia and Ukraine, both food-producing powerhouses, has already sent prices for cereals like wheat soaring and European governments scrambling to stabilize markets. Europe can probably weather the immediate storm. Its farmers are bracing for even higher costs of basic inputs like fertilizers and animal feed, but consumers are unlikely to see empty supermarket shelves. Costs will go up — particularly for key goods like sunflower oil — but rich Western economies can afford to diversify…

Green dreams dashed

The European Commission is considering a proposal from a majority of EU farming ministers to temporarily scrap the requirement to leave a chunk of farmland out of production to help boost nature protection, and instead use it to grow animal feed.

But this has drawn stinging attacks from Greens, who argue this is an ideal opportunity to reduce the amount of resources handed over to the meat and dairy industries. The Commission’s stated plans to think about propping up the (not-so-green) pig sector — one of the major industries being squeezed by the rising price of grains — has also prompted a backlash, including from more economically liberal Nordic countries.

5 reasons war in Ukraine is a gut punch to the global food system – POLITICO

Finally, the view from Devon comes from Dartmoor farmer Anton Coaker writing in his weekly column for the WMN – where he warns that we in the ‘rich Western economies’ cannot afford to be complacent and that we will indeed have to be making dramatic decisions about how we farm:

Like most of the farming lobby, I’ve been carefully pointing out the shortcomings in UK food policies for some years. I’ll give you some numbers below, but the crux is that we’re about to experience a food and energy crisis.

We import – very roughly – approaching half our food. In a complex international trade, food – from staple commodities to processed products – is shuttled everywhere, all of the time.I know I’ve pointed these evident truths out before, but recent events suggest that the chickens are coming home to roost… now…

The rocketing price of natural gas is causing problems in its own right, with electricity and heating bills going up, and about to get worse. But I want you to focus on what this means for fertiliser. Us naughty farmers have, for decades, been buying nitrogen plant food in a bag. It’s manufactured using natural gas, and boosts crop volumes. From high input ryegrass for dairy units to convert into milk, to kick-starting cereal plants so they can build bigger ears of grain. The rights and wrongs of this don’t matter. We are where we are…

We saw what happens when loo rolls run out, or petrol doesn’t come gushing out of the pump in the accustomed manner… Joe Public becomes pretty unhinged when just his routine is disturbed. And you don’t need to read many history books to know what happens when he’s real hungry.

I’ll repeat the critical bit. We have 30-35 million mouths more than we can currently feed, and the overseas supply looks like it’s in some jeopardy. How clear does this picture need to be painted? Personally, I fear our social cohesion won’t stand this test.

Several countries across Europe have already instructed their farmers to abandon the green policies beloved of the ‘woke’ urbanites, and ‘get ploughing’. Westminster is sitting on its hands.

There’s no time left to discuss this. It’s already upon us.

Western Morning News –

The Anton Coaker column thread | Page 6 | The Farming Forum