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Stackyard News Feb 08

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Food Production a National Priority Once More

Global threats to food security and the environment make agriculture more important to society now than at any point in the last 50 years.

NFU Scotland President
Jim McLaren

NFU Scotland President Jim McLaren

That was the message delivered today by NFU Scotland President Jim McLaren to farmers and industry representatives attending the organisation’s Annual General Meeting in Dunblane.

In his address, Mr McLaren set out six crucial steps that had to be taken to secure supplies of quality food in an increasingly volatile world. They are:

  • Development of clear political leadership on food issues from government;
  • A revolution in regulation to eliminate red tape that delivers little benefit but stifles food production;
  • Greater Scottish control of animal health issues to better protect the country from diseases like foot and mouth;
  • A fairer supply chain, with supermarkets recognising the threat to the future supplies of food;
  • A farm subsidy structure which secures value for money for consumers;
  • A new, scientific debate on the future of biotechnology, such as GM, in Scotland.

NFUS President Jim McLaren said:

“There are massive global factors at play which are already affecting consumers and the businesses of farmers and crofters up and down the country. These factors will only increase in intensity and they lay down the greatest challenge farming has faced since the food shortages of the Second World War.

“Global population is growing fast and a rise in affluence is leading to improved and more demanding diets. At the same time, climate change, the sprawl of cities into rural areas and the massive expansion in biofuel production is limiting the amount of land available for farming and food production. In short, we have more mouths to feed but less land to produce food on. There is also an added domestic context; we are living in a country with a renewed appetite for local, high quality food but one which also faces a diet-related health crisis.

“This all combines to create a perfect storm, presenting Scotland’s farmers with their biggest challenge in 50 years but also their greatest opportunity. The Prime Minister this week spoke of food security issues for the first time, an issue the Scottish Government has also been engaged in. Food policy is set to become one of the most critical government policies, just as it was half a century ago when Europe acted through the CAP to secure food supplies.

“In order to meet the challenges presented by these unstoppable global trends, we need a new partnership between government, the industry and the supply chain. As farmers, we need to step up to the plate once more and show that we can and will secure for the country sufficient supplies of quality food, produced in a sustainable way. The pressure and responsibility to deliver has never been greater.”

link Supermarket Policeman a Step Closer to Reality
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