Whatever political deal is reached, Brexit must deliver this:
- CREATE a balance between sustainable farming for our nation’s food security, as well as attending to the most important environmental issues. The submissions of extreme pressure groups on the Government are largely uninformed and if adopted, could permanently damage our farming heritage.
- REDUCE our dependence on imported food. To this end, we are urgently needing trade agreements which encourage exports and improve our balance of payments. Cheaper but inferior imports of food are not a solution,being unstable and subject to blockades, fuel shortages, strikes, illness and other health issues.
- ACKNOWLEDGE that food security IS a ‘public good’ and that food production is central to the new Agricultural Policy. To quote the NFU President, ‘ If we are not producing food, we are not farmers’.
- ESTABLISH a separate independent individual or team with the expertise to formulate a food policy for our increasing and diverse population. Could a ‘food audit’ be carried out to ensure that we are in fact growing what we need? This would greatly relieve some of the pressure DEFRA are facing throughout this turbulent period of change.
- GUARANTEE availability of sufficient labour, especially in the fruit & vegetable sector (noting only 23% of our fruit and vegetables are grown in the UK). As a nation, we import £9 billion’s worth of vegetables per annum, whilst exporting £1 billion’s worth. Foreign labour is essential to this sector for picking, packing, and planting. Already a leading East Anglian carrot producer is producing carrots cheaper in Poland and sending them back to UK supermarkets because of the acute labour shortages in this country.
Pressing questions for the Government to address
Despite the political turmoil, will Westminster realise the importance of creating a food security policy at this time?
How quickly can the Government enter into free-trade deals with other countries? We must bear in mind:
- Our food and farming industry is now worth over £108bn
- Our food and farming industry now supports 1 in 8 jobs
- We produce less than 60% of our own food requirements
- We are a vulnerable island nation , making reliance on imported food is a risk