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Unions Welcome Commitment to Food and Farming

by 5m Editor
6 January 2010, at 10:32am

UK - Farming unions in the UK have heralded the publication of the UK Government’s vision for food production in the UK as welcome recognition of the growing importance that farming will play in meeting ambitious targets in the future.

NFU President Peter Kendall said: "This vision demonstrates that Defra has grasped the complex issues that are in play when developing a joined up food policy and that it will provide much-needed leadership on food policy.

"The whole food supply chain and Government will need to work together to optimise productivity within an increasingly competitive framework if we are to improve the sustainability of the sector at the same time. This Vision clearly sets out many of the challenges that the food system faces and indicates a number of possible solutions which farmers and growers will want to scrutinise as they think through the long-term direction of their businesses.

"Having identified the core issues for the food system, Government will need to achieve the right balance between them as it moves to delivery. Farmers and growers are already demonstrating that they can produce more food while impacting less. What we now need are policies that underpin and enhance a productive agriculture sector.

"The fact that Government wants to deliver its vision for food in partnership with industry and build on existing work in progress is good news. However, the need to base decisions on sound science, particularly where food production is concerned, has never been greater."

NFU Scotland Chief Executive James Withers said: “We have long advocated that a strong, successful farming sector is the cornerstone upon which politicians can base any strategies that look to tackle the growing number of concerns centred around future food supplies and sustainable production.

“Food 2030 may be the first food strategy to emerge from a UK Government in more than half a century, but it represents welcome recognition that a joined-up food strategy is urgently required and that farmers and growers are a key part in delivering it. The UK vision mirrors much of what the Scottish Government published in its 2009 strategy for Scotland’s £10 billion food and drink industry and it is important that both administrations work together to deliver for the sector.

“Agriculture is arguably facing its greatest ever challenge. By 2030, it must provide the nutritional requirements for a growing global population by increasing food production by 50 percent. However, it must produce more food from less land, use less water, reduce its usage of energy and fertiliser, and continue to cut greenhouse gas emissions....all within the next 20 years.

“History has shown us how responsive agriculture can be so I have no doubt that these future challenges can be met. However, the resilience and ingenuity of the agriculture industry must be matched by Government investment in education, skills, science and renewables. The Defra plan for 2030 sets out that framework but it will be judged by farmers on delivery.

“Food 2030 also recognises that all parts of the food supply chain have responsibilities. A fair supply chain, which rewards progress, rather than reduces margins for those at the production end will be critical. The Tories used a platform at the Oxford conference to confirm their commitment to the creation of an Ombudsman to police relationships in the grocery sector. That is most welcome and we hope that this provides the necessary impetus that would allow the UK Government to come to the same conclusion and accept the Competition Commission’s recommendations on this matter.”

Further Reading

- Go to our news item on the minister's speech to the Oxford Farming Conference by clicking here.