UK agriculture needs to be more competitive, says Jim Godfrey.
As farmers we want a competitive farming industry because that is what will be sustainable in the longer term. A competitive industry is profitable, more resilient, better able to withstand financial, disease and other shocks; it is more likely to reinvest, better able to provide good working conditions, environmental benefits, and give greater choice, innovation and value to consumers as well as being less likely to require subsidy.
Over the last 20 years we have seen the output of UK agriculture decline, mainly as a result of less land in production and less livestock. The UK’s self sufficiency has decreased too, and the average yields of our major crops have at best only marginally increased over this time, the notable exception being sugar beet. The pig sector has decreased substantially as a result of UK welfare legislation and subsequent under re-investment, whilst the poultry sector has increased substantially due to well targeted research and investment in buildings.
Continue reading Better British farming
The UK has imported food for well over a thousand years. During the industrial revolution, we lost self-sufficiency in basic foodstuffs and have never regained it.
We have always been able to buy food from elsewhere and the global food market has become so efficient that the proportion of UK average income spent on food has fallen from 33% in 1957 to 15% in 2006. If food is cheap, reliable, safe and globally abundant, why should the UK worry about local production?
In my view, there are three main reasons why we should not assume that tomorrow will be the same as yesterday.
Continue reading Why should the UK grow food?