Cheap food must end

The cheap food era is at an end, according to the president of the NFU, speaking at the Royal Welsh Show last week.

Peter Kendall said the drive for cheaper food had been the root cause of most farming and rural problems and he said it was vital farmgate prices in the livestock and dairy sectors increase to reflect the substantial rise in cereals and oilseeds prices and other inputs of production.

"The era of cheap food at any cost is over and I, for one, will not be missing it", said Kendall.

"We are witnessing a sea-change in world commodity markets and this should be reflected at the farm level - otherwise, it will be all too clear that the supply chain is not working properly.

"For too long farmgate prices have lagged behind rises in production costs and in the cost of living; even for sectors that have experienced increases in recent months, like dairy and cereals, farmgate prices are still lower than they had been ten years ago. Rising farmgate prices are long overdue and they cannot come at a better time for cereal growers and dairy and livestock farmers, for whom this dismal summer might otherwise have been the last straw.

"Food has never been cheaper, with consumers spending less than 9 per cent of their income on food, compared with more than 22 per cent just forty years ago. Food price increases are both affordable and needed."

He said a recovery in farmgate prices was good news: "Many of the problems that have made farming so difficult for the past 20 years can ultimately be traced to the drive for cheap food at any cost, not only in Britain, but around the world. It is about time that the trend reverses and we do not need to apologise for it."