Labour conference: Farmers will be food heroes, says Fitzpatrick

Farmers will be the nation’s heroes in the coming decades as the search for sustainable food supplies intensifies, food and farming minister Jim Fitzpatrick has claimed.

Speaking at a British Retail Consortium, Food and Drink Federation and NFU fringe event at the Labour Party conference in Brighton yesterday (29 September), the junior DEFRA minister said this century would be defined by securing food and water as populations grow.

“Farmers will be heroes because they will be the ones keeping us alive,” he told a packed room of party delegates and farmers.

“They will get much more recognition dealing with climate change, health, the environment and sustainable production.”

His comments came as he urged farmers to respond to a government’s consultation document on the future of farming, launched by DEFRA secretary Hilary Benn in August.

“We have created a document looking at what we want food production to look like by 2030,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.

“[We need to look] at how we make sure we have a sustainable supply, encourage healthy eating and produce as much as we can efficiently.”

The document, which will provide a platform for what happens to food over the next 30 years, has already had 3500 responses, but it was vital more people gave their views,” he added.

“This is the most thorough consultation on food since 1947 and we want to encourage people to let us know what they think because there are issues that will effect the future.

“We have got to get it right, regardless of what happens in an election.”

NFU president Peter Kendall welcomed Mr Fitzpatrick’s comments, but urged the government to set out a clear and simple vision on food security and what it wanted from farmers.

“For the government to say food and farming is central to the economy would be a tremendous step forward,” he said. “There’s a vibrant future out there.”

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