THIS week sadly marks the one-year anniversary of the Russian attack on Ukraine, writes FUW president Glyn Roberts.

A war that has led to consumers and businesses facing crippling increases in energy and fuel costs, global food shortages that have led the World Food Programme to name 2023 as a year of ‘extreme jeopardy’, inflation in agricultural input costs approaching 30 per cent and UK food price inflation reaching 13.3 per cent in December, the highest rate on record.

It has starkly highlighted how susceptible we are to global events which are beyond our control and has reinforced a point that the FUW has made for many years - we must maintain and bolster the UK’s food and energy security.

Yet many of our domestic and international policies do little to address current problems and will increase our future exposure to such dangers if nothing changes.

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While much is beyond the control of our own Governments, we have identified action areas, including international trade policy, our relationship with the EU, renewable energy, our domestic agricultural and rural policies as well as financial support for critical industries,  which if addressed together, will help relieve pressures for farmers, food producers and consumers in the immediate term.

It would also bolster our food and energy security in ways which reduce the dangers of future exposure to global emergencies. 

A key point for the agriculture industry in terms of our domestic agricultural and rural policies is that the UK’s departure from the EU has led to the UK Government reducing spending on food and agriculture by hundreds of millions.

This threatens our food security by undermining farm businesses and the thousands of upstream and downstream businesses and jobs that rely on farm production.

Meanwhile, the refocusing of agricultural policies on environmental issues threatens to eclipse the importance of maintaining food production.
We have not held back in highlighting that the UK Government’s failure to replace EU agriculture, rural development and structural funding breaks a key promise made by those who lobbied for the UK to leave the EU.

It, in fact, severely undermines the farmers and food producers who provide three-quarters of the indigenous food we rely on.

Proposed agricultural and rural policies and funding mechanisms have increasingly become focused on environmental benefits, eclipsing the importance of maintaining food production.

The FUW will continue its lobbying efforts to ensure that food production and the protection of our family farms and rural communities is placed on an equal footing with environmental objectives in order to maintain and enhance UK food security in an environmentally sustainable manner.

With the Spring Budget on the horizon, the UK Government must restore such funding to what it would have been had the UK remained a member of the EU, in order to bolster food security by supporting farmers and food producers.