Policy change is creating opportunities and challenges for farmers across the UK
As if the challenges created by our exit from the EU and the pandemic were not enough, the UK farming industry must also come to terms with the Agriculture Bill, which will shape the sector going forward. The UK Government considers that Europe’s Common Agricultural Policy was not working and post Brexit the bill now provides the opportunity to redefine how we support agriculture and food in the future, and what we want from the industry.
Undoubtedly the development of more sustainable and environmentally acceptable food production is already core to policy development and we must add to that the need to work towards carbon net-zero targets. However, the pandemic has highlighted just how important it is for the UK to have a consistent and adequate food supply. Food security is going to become of critical importance. While we can never be self-sufficient, nor may this be appropriate for a trading nation, we do need to put greater emphasis back on obtaining food from our own resources.
While we can never be self-sufficient, nor may this be appropriate for a trading nation, we do need to put greater emphasis back on obtaining food from our own resources
Also, if we are serious about reducing our carbon footprint, we must reconsider the issue of food miles and how we can reduce them. Should we really be exporting farm products, but then also importing the same types of product? Seasonality is of course an influencer, but does it fully make sense?
Then there is renewable energy and our need as a nation to increase its use. Farming can play an important role through the production of biogas and water power, or in providing sites for wind and solar – albeit the latter needs careful handling and can be controversial. There undoubtedly needs to be better communication between producer and consumer, and indeed throughout the food chain.