Food chain must be more resilient, says MP

Better food security could be one important outcome of the coronavirus pandemic – which has highlighted the determination of British farmers to feed the nation.

MPs investigating the impact of the pandemic on the UK’s food supply chain are expected to recommend steps to make sure people have better access to sufficient healthy food.

See also: Coronavirus: MPs probe threat to food supplies

Members of the House of Commons environment, food and rural affairs select committee held their first public evidence session as part of its inquiry on Tuesday (5 May).

Speaking afterwards, Keighley MP Robbie Moore told Farmers Weekly he believed the government must ensure UK food security and supply chain resilience.

Under scrutiny

He said: “We need, as a scrutiny committee, to make sure Defra does have those plans in place to ensure that food resilience is there now but also going on into the future.”

Mr Moore said the inquiry was an ideal opportunity for MPs to ensure food security and resilience was at the heart of Defra’s thinking and policymaking.

Jack Ward, chief executive of the British Growers Association, said demand for food was “like the Christmas rush without any warning” ahead of the coronavirus lockdown.

“If this crisis has done one thing, I think it has partly restored the pride that farmers and growers have in producing food,” Mr Ward told the inquiry.

Wake-up call

“Suddenly, the nation has woken up to the fact that when all is said and done, food is absolutely critical and [producing] it is dependent on lots and lots of people.”

NFU president Minette Batters told MPs it was vital to keep food supply chains functioning so they could continue to feed the nation when the pandemic was finally over.

“We are only just starting this journey – it is not all going to be sorted. Lockdown is obviously going to be a very phased approach and who knows what that looks like.

“The new normal is going to be quite long lasting, so we are going to have to keep working at how we keep these living supply chains focused so we don’t lose sight of British sourcing.”

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