ONE thing that became worryingly apparent during the run up to the Brexit referendum and subsequent events was the lack of understanding amongst UK politicians of how global trade works, writes FUW president Glyn Roberts.

Perhaps this was forgivable given that trade had for so long been dealt with on behalf of the UK by the European Commission, but you would have hoped that the period during which trade negotiations went from being never mentioned in the media to dominating tabloid headlines would have mirrored a broader appreciation of how the real world works and how interconnected everything is.

But the general failure of UK Governments to respond robustly to the imminent global food supply crisis, despite repeated warnings, makes you wonder whether anything has been learned.

On March 12, a week after writing to the Welsh Government to highlight the need to act in response to acute and long term impacts of the war in Ukraine, the FUW told attendees at a Labour conference fringe event that “Russia and the Ukraine provide 30 per cent of the world’s wheat, 30 per cent of the UK’s maize, and of course we’re already too aware of the reliance of Europe on Russian gas imports... Around half of the world’s population relies upon food fertilised by artificial nitrogen made from gas... we must not be naive about the impacts on not only global, but also Welsh and UK food production... if we do not produce food and it is imported instead, whose mouths will it be taken out of?”

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In the eight weeks or so since the looming food supply crisis that will impact every family in Wales first began to be discussed by farmers - mainly in the context of a four-fold increase in fertiliser prices - the Welsh Government’s response has been negligible, and the reaction of the UK Government has not been much better - although English Secretary of State George Eustice has announced rule changes that will ease the fertiliser market, and his deputy, Victoria Prentice, has held crisis talks with key English farming representatives.

Meanwhile, the EU has set up a food security crisis preparedness and response mechanism and has allowed member states to reduce VAT rates to help producers make food more affordable.

Perhaps, most frustrating for farmers, is the degree to which the Welsh and UK Governments seem to be unaware that food production relies on the seasons, and that the windows of opportunities for taking action to help food production that will benefit consumers in six, 12 or 18 months are closing rapidly as planting and growing seasons pass by - something any allotment owner would understand.

Last week, the FUW again wrote to the Welsh Government highlighting concerns regarding its failure to act in response to what the International Monetary Fund managing director described on April 19 as a ‘crisis on top of a crisis’ in a speech that called for fast and well-coordinated actions to address a ‘global food crisis’.

The FUW’s letter accepted that there is little or nothing the Welsh Government can do with regard to many of the problems affecting food production - but highlighted that there are some actions within its powers that would alleviate pressures for Welsh farmers and benefit consumers over the coming months and years.

As indicated by the FUW in its Labour conference fringe event, every ounce of food we import in the west because we have failed to produce it ourselves is likely to come out of the mouths of some of the poorest people in the world, fueling starvation and civil unrest and more global instability and mass migration.