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

New technology and greater investment are needed to make agriculture more productive, NFU President Peter Kendall will tell industry officials at a Downing Street conference today.

Mr Kendall will join supermarket representatives, scientists and charities at a hastily-convened “food summit” to discuss the “crisis” of rising food prices with Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

The meeting will look at the long- and short-term factors causing food price inflation.

In an article on the Number 10 website, Mr Brown said he wanted consumers, food producers, manufacturers and retailers to collectively look at how to tackle the “global food crisis”.

He said an “agricultural revolution” was needed to help farmers in developing countries produce more food.

“We must take the initiative to further develop higher-yielding and climate-resilient varieties of crop,” he added.

Mr Brown is also expected to discuss European policy encouraging biofuels at the conference, which he said the UK should be “more selective” in its support of.

“We now know that biofuels are frequently inefficient,” he said. “We need to look closely at the impact on food prices and the environment of different production methods.”

Richard Macdonald, NFU director general, said farmers were capable of producing the food the world needed, but they must be able to “do so at a profit”.

“This will mean higher prices for food products across the world, not least to meet the significant higher costs incurred by farmers in producing fresh, quality produce.

“To meet growing demand across the globe, production will increase, with more land taken into production, and this will impact on global food prices.

“However they do need to remain significantly higher than the low historic prices, which were completely unsustainable.”

The meeting is expected to finish at 6pm.

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