Food prices must remain high and incentives are needed if farmers are to invest in technology and lift production.

That is one of the messages NFU president Peter Kendall aimed to give Prime Minister Gordon Brown at the summit meeting on food inflation and availability.

Speaking to Farmers Weekly Mr Kendall said he continued to be concerned at years of poor investment in agriculture and that it was time the government woke up to what farmers could do for the UK economy and global challenges.

“Don’t allow people to think the solution is to have cheap food,” he said. “If you want more land to come into production and you want investment in technology, we must have higher prices.

“Low prices mean low output. We also have to find ways to deliver positive outcomes.

“Agriculture has rocketed up the political agenda but the industry is still being held back by lack of investment and incentive to help us deliver.”

By 2050, half the world’s arable land could be unusable and yet population and income growth is driving a global demand for cereals and oilseeds.

Encouraging farmers

Mr Kendall warned that action was needed to encourage UK farmers to invest, particularly when input and energy costs were so expensive.

He will push government for 100% allowances on technologies to encourage farmers to invest in precision equipment.

He also repeated calls for the government to reconsider the phasing out of the agriculture buildings allowance and to spend more on scientific research.

The secretary of state Hilary Benn had first-hand experience of the benefits of precision technology when he recently visited Mr Kendall’s Bedfordshire farm and saw GPS at work in the field.

See also: Invest in farming to avoid food crisis, Gordon Brown told at food summit