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G20: Agriculture Put At Top Of Agenda

22 June 2011

SCOTLAND - National Farmers Union (NFU) Scotland’s vice-presidents, Allan Bowie and John Picken have agreed with French President Nicolas Sarkozy that agriculture should be at the top of the global agenda, at a conference held in Paris to discuss ‘food challenges’ as a precursor to the G-20 meeting of agriculture ministers.

The two-day conference, organised in conjunction with French farmers union FNSEA, involved more than 120 agricultural organisations from its participating countries, discussing the demographic, social, economic and environmental challenges facing farmers worldwide now and in the future.

Speaking from Paris, NFUS vice-president Allan Bowie said: “President Sarkozy made clear in his speech the seriousness of the challenges facing food producers but was also adamant that food production must be at the heart of global political discussions.”

“In particular, he underlined France’s intention to frame discussions in the context of market volatility at next week’s meeting of agriculture ministers. He tackled the subject of market speculation and announced his intention to cool damaging stock market practices; not with a view to preventing hedging itself, rather to end volatility.”

“The geographical richness of participants in this conference is phenomenal and gives all delegates a rare but necessary opportunity to discuss major agricultural challenges such as population growth, the cost of and access to food, market volatility, climate change and land supply which, although they may not all affect us domestically today, are inescapable globally.”

“And it is on a global scale that we need to be thinking. Our world’s dietary needs are evolving against an ever-transforming backdrop of climate change, land-use changes and volatile markets.”

“Many more questions have been asked so far than we yet have answers to, however, and this conference is therefore of great importance in bringing so many people together. I hope very much that proceedings start to tease out some tangible and practical solutions.”

NFUS vice-president, John Picken said: “Scottish farming is in a great place just now. We can honestly claim to be producing among the highest quality food and drink in the world at an affordable price and with great sensitivity to our precious natural resources.”

“And yet we are not immune to global influences such as climate change and market volatility. For many of the European – and other – representatives at this conference, conversations will be held around CAP reform which will, of course, have to address the issues being discussed here.”

“Beyond Europe’s borders, developing countries are having trouble sourcing enough affordable food for their rising populations. Devising solutions to this is a major part of the reason behind this conference. Some delegates want strategic food reserves in the countries with greatest supply volatility; the right to eat is a global call to arms for farmers to cooperate in order to feed the world’s people.”

“Discussions in Scotland and Brussels are, quite rightly, focussing on such issues as way in which SFP should be distributed in future, SFP access for new entrants and easing the cross-compliance and penalty regime."

"Governments must ensure information on supply and demand is widely available and there must be a focus on research – with private investment too – on new technology and practices to help farmers produce enough food without avoidable adverse effects on our environment,” he concluded.

 

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