Food Security Must Be Top Of The Agenda in 2020 and Beyond

So … Finally, the election is over, Brexit is on the way and every day will be like Christmas if Boris Johnson is to be believed?

By this time next year, we will be out of Europe, but what will we call the Christmas favourites (in some houses!) … just sprouts, or Brussels sprouts at Christmas 2020?

However, for a moment let’s take a look at what it means for farmers and what will happen to the food on our plates?

NFU Scotland were quick out of the blocks, followed closely by the other UK farming organisations, with “wish lists” for the new Westminster Government.

Most noted that at least we have some certainty, even if they didn’t like the outcome, and the coming 12 months of frantic negotiations will be crucial to the long term sustainability of all parts of the food and drink industry.

As I have mentioned before in this column, in my opinion it is vital that we take food security to the top of the political agenda. By this I mean that unless we look after our own domestic supplies of food and the ability to feed ourselves within the UK, then when the going gets tough, no-one else is going to help us! At the moment we are dropping down the league tables fast and heading towards just 50% self-sufficient in food.

But, why would we need to feed ourselves, surely there’s plenty of food around the world to feed everyone?

Whether you choose to believe it or not, climate change is a stark reality and it’s only going to get worse … My wife has aunties, uncles and cousins all living in the Blue Mountains in Australia – not that far from Sydney – and they are suffering average temperatures of 43 degrees every day with bush fires all around them. Farming is in a desperate state in huge swathes of Australia with droughts commonplace and food imports rocketing! If you replicate that scene to other countries (Brazil and others come to mind) then the ability to feed ourselves becomes even more important … but, not just important – it is going to be a matter of long term survival.

The vegetable versus meat argument will pale into insignificance when it becomes a matter of feeding ourselves!

There’s no doubt that cheap imports will be the way supermarkets aim to keep prices down and they won’t care about methods and standards the imported food is produced to.

But, never mind the standards, what if those imports are no longer available?  Then, add into this equation the distances imported food has to travel and the impact on carbon emissions and the case for food security in the UK is a “no-brainer”!

Will somebody explain why it makes sense to transport food of any sort halfway around the world, when we have so much available within a few miles of our own doorsteps? We may not produce some of the trendy new foods in the UK, but if we burn fossil fuels to transport them here, that surely is only making matters worse .. isn’t it?

My message to Boris Johnson and his new Westminster Government is

“You have a duty to make sure your own farmers in the UK, from both sides of the border, get back to doing their proper job of feeding your own people.”

A break away from Europe which heads us in the direction of feeding ourselves has to be the only way forward and let’s celebrate increased food security at Christmas 2020, please?

In the meantime, may I wish you “All the Best” as we head into this new decade, whatever it brings!

@farmerjonesy