UFU Supports Defra's Food Policy Debate

UK - Following the launch of DEFRA’s new food policy measures consultation, the Ulster Farmers’ Union has welcomed the public debate on UK food security.
calendar icon 17 August 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

The UFU says it will be highlighting the strategic importance of securing long term viable food production from farms in Northern Ireland.

UFU President Graham Furey said; “Our farmers should be central to the development and delivery of the Governments food policy”.

The new policy measures published by DEFRA, assess the long-term sustainability of UK food supply leading up to 2030, as well as highlighting the Government’s progress against the objectives set by the Cabinet Office Strategy Unit report ‘Food Matters’.

UFU President Graham Furey comments; “Farming is already contributing strongly to economic activity in Northern Ireland. Almost 50,000 people work on our farms and the target this year for the agri-food sector is an impressive turnover of over £3 billion. Longer term, the future looks bright for a region like ours with a great heritage of farming, stockmanship and food production. Global demand for food and energy could grow by 50% by 2030. 9 billion consumers will generate a huge demand for our food”.

“Other factors could also elevate our status as a critical food producing region. When the Global economy recovers, we have previously seen that young consumers in countries such as China and India have a healthy appetite for our meat and dairy products. Climate change and a switch in land use may hinder production in other parts of the world; and our 60 million strong UK consumer base last year spent £83 billion on food and drink. The challenge for Government is to develop a coherent food strategy which will deliver UK food security in the long term, with sustainable food production from local farms at the heart of this policy. An over-reliance on food imports will not deliver food security”.

The UFU says it will now be contributing to DEFRA’s Food Security consultation, highlighting the current lack of profitability on farms. Graham Furey said; “When farmers talk about sustainability, they really mean profitability. The single biggest problem facing primary producers’ is that they are not getting their fair share of the profits generated in the food supply chain. Supermarkets have walked off with the lions share of the profits. The UK Cabinet Office Food Report states: ‘Farmers share of the value of the retail food basket is lower now than in the 1990’s’. We must see a Retailer Ombudsman established so that farmers have a greater chance of receiving a fair return from the food chain. We will also be highlighting other important issues such as the need for food imports to meet the same high standards as local production and we continue to be concerned in Northern Ireland that farm gate prices here are unjustifiably lower than in other regions of the UK for our main commodities. These and many other issues need to be addressed to deliver the food security which the Government has now committed to”.

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