UK must increase food production

The Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) Committee has published a report on UK food security, concluding that the UK has a “moral obligation” to contribute to global food production.

The report, which marks the end of the Committee’s investigation into securing UK food supplies until 2050, says the government must develop and strong and clear food policy aimed at increasing sustainable production.

“If people go hungry then political stability goes out of the window. This is a key lesson that Defra must learn from last year’s food price hike when some countries ran short of food,” said Committee chairman the Rt Hon Michael Jack MP.

“What happened showed just how fine the line is between full supermarket shelves and empty stomachs.”

The report calls on Defra to tackle existing weaknesses in the UK food system, with a particular focus on public sector food procurement and farming research.

Julian Hunt, the Food and Drink Federation’s (FDF) director of Communications, welcomed the report’s stance on government leadership. “Like the EFRA Committee, we believe it is critical that we build on our sector’s inherent strengths by developing a clear vision for production in this country – one that places food and drink manufacturing at the heart of all Government thinking,” he said.

“We need a policy framework that recognises sustainable food production as a top Government priority in its own right and provides clear support for our sector – both in terms of words and deeds

NFU president Peter Kendall praised the Committee for recognising the important role that British agriculture must play in feeding the world, and echoed the call for increased research funding.

“The key to producing more while impacting less is science,” he said. “That is why there is such an urgent need to substantially increase the budget for publicly-backed agricultural research that focuses on the UK’s sustainable production potential and translating science into practice in the ground.”