The Tenant Farmers Association’s National Chairman Greg Bliss has used his New Year message to TFA members to stress the urgency of having in place a practical framework for ensuring national and international food security.
“In 2008 we saw the concept of food security become very much part of modern political parlance but the work for 2009 will be to turn that rhetoric into practical action. Recent UK Conservative and Labour Governments have taken primarily a free-market approach to this policy area. However, in a world where we will require twice as much food by 2030 as we are producing today and when we are expecting global population to increase by half by 2050, the free-market approach will not be sufficient for the task which lies ahead," said Mr Bliss.
“In his speech to the Fabian Society earlier this month DEFRA Secretary of State Hilary Benn said that there will be no incentive to increase UK production as part of a national food security strategy. His answer is policies to promote better distribution and stable supply through a global strategy on production and sustainability. However, what he fails to accept is that UK agriculture can contribute to this. Instead of allowing self-sufficiency to decrease and output to drop, we should use our benefits of stable climate and land quality to produce more, for everyone as part of a comprehensive food security policy. We are far better placed than most countries and don’t suffer the extremes of many others,” said Mr Bliss.
“Of course, it is right to address issues such as food waste, water management, our adaptation to climate change, distribution and poverty but not to the exclusion of enhancing domestic production. It seems perverse that as we talk about the need for more food production, our output of milk in the UK is at an historic low operating at around 1 billion litres below our national quota. We have the land, capability, technology and will. However, the last two of these are beginning to wane. DEFRA should at least invest in applied research and development so that we can become a key player in Benn’s policy and help feed our growing world population,” said Mr Bliss.
“It is time to look at how we can benefit our nation and the wider world by turning around years of Government neglect of productive agriculture in this country. We need to see food and food security as much public goods as landscape, biodiversity and countryside access,” said Mr Bliss.
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