My World: June 2021…
This is part of a series of articles where our contributors describe how they think things will look a year from now.
An increased focus on food supply and environmental health will change attitudes to the countryside
A recent survey showed that 1.7% of British people want life under lockdown to continue forever, and substantially more want some elements of social distancing to continue for good. I sympathise. For many in farming, coping with social isolation and relying on family for support are fundamental characteristics of life as normal. It would not surprise me at all if the 1.7% were farmers happy that the roads were empty, no tourists were spoiling the beauty of the countryside, and that the secretly wished for food security crisis had arrived.
The impacts of coronavirus on food availability are only short-term distribution issues, but the pandemic experience will prove a valuable counterpoint to policy arguments about public funding for environmental goods above all else. The emerging links between food, pollution, health and coronavirus are cause for concern, though. Farmers know investment in health on our farms is far cheaper than cure. Preventative investment in the health of the environment was already being mainstreamed through the work of the Natural Capital Committee. I think preventative investment in the health of people will be a big issue next year and thereafter. The UK’s food strategy, expected this year, will be critical here.