WHEN we think of hunger, often countries far away spring to mind, writes FUW president Glyn Roberts.

We don’t immediately associate that issue with the UK, Wales or rural communities.

Yet the cost of living crisis here is leaving many families at crisis point.

According to the Trussell Trust, an emergency food bank parcel is given out every 13 seconds here in the UK.

Consider in this context that people are proud and will not usually seek that help until they are actually at a crisis point and we can make an educated guess that the situation is pretty bad in our own communities.

Figures from a 2021 State of Hunger report by the Trussell Trust highlight that around 2.5 per cent of all UK households – 700,000 households - used a food bank in 2019/20, prior to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Additionally the report highlights that the 370,000 households supported by a food bank in the Trussell Trust network during this period included 320,000 children.

That’s quite frankly not acceptable, yet the policy solutions needed to fix the problem are complex.

READ MORE: FUW president highlights the major issue of agflation

At the same time, food systems experts from the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES) are warning that the food-price crisis is about to enter a dangerous new phase with the world in general on the brink of not only a debt crisis but also a hunger crisis that’s going to worsen.

Part of the problem, they argue, is that policymakers are ignoring the role that unsustainable, import heavy, food systems are playing in driving up debt and hunger.

Two immediate thoughts come to mind - the issue is huge and can’t be easily fixed and at the same time the answer is crystal clear.

We’re not going to unpack the complexities of global food systems, debt and trade in this weekly column, however, what we can address is the vitally important role our farmers play here at home.

Farmers are central to the conversation around sustainable food systems.

We must ensure that we have a food production system here at home that can feed our children today, tomorrow and forever.

That food production system needs to be supported by the Government and that’s why the FUW is lobbying the Welsh Government on its Agriculture Bill and the Sustainable Farming scheme to ensure that here in Wales we have thriving and sustainable family farms for generations to come.

We don’t want to live in a world where here in the UK 320,000 children need to be supported by a food bank.

So, as a first step to solving the issue, and perhaps one of the most important steps, we need to keep our farmers on the land producing food in a secure and sustainable way.

The sustainable farming scheme is a critical cog in that system and from meetings we’ve had with the Welsh Government there is still some work that needs to be done to ensure that the scheme and corresponding systems can work well.

The Basic Payment Scheme for farm income support has seen cuts in England of 35 per cent, or nearing 50 per cent if inflation is considered.
Couple this with the uncertainty and low payment rates on offer within the replacement ‘ELMS’ scheme, particularly for upland farms, the English experiment should serve as an effective warning to the Welsh Government about rushing through a new scheme here in Wales. 

The FUW will continue its co-working ethos with the Welsh Government to make sure the systems we have in future deliver for our farmers, consumers and our children.