A new strategy for food must be a priority for the government as the UK population heads towards the latest predicted level of 70 million by 2026, according to the NFU.
Speaking at this week’s Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate, NFU president Peter Kendall said the government’s failure to recognise the urgency of food security would lead to a stagnation of the farming sector and even greater dependence on imports.
“The government has had an environment paper, a water paper and it’s finally got round to a food plan. We need a shoring-up approach to our agri-environment schemes that will enable us to produce food and not just de-stock and re-wild. In essence, we need to produce more but impact less,” said Mr Kendall.
But he stressed there were many other issues covering taxation, planning, labour and tenancy laws that must be addressed to help the farming sector operate without unnecessary handicaps that threatened to stifle food production.
“The industry faces big challenges but the CAP remains the industry’s best risk management tool.
“I think we’ll now see more national positioning around CAP reform following the first pronouncements on budget. In England, over the move from historic to regional payments, we should not be forced to move faster and further until other member states get nearer to us. Nor should we allow political dogma to leave farmers less able to cope with the volatility of the market and the weather.”