Pat Crawford reports
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is utterly appalling – it has shocked the world and brought nations together in a rare degree of unity.
The knock-on consequences of the war are becoming more apparent each day and every part of the world is affected.  Dependence on Russia for energy has reached the headlines but so far little has been said or written about food security. Here in the UK we should remember that we are far from self- sufficient; we are dependent on imports and Russia’s warmongering behaviour highlights the vulnerability of this situation.
Food has been taken for granted for far too long. Because in relative terms it is cheap, wastage has escalated ever since rationing was removed post the Second World War. Faced with inability to import food in the way we take for granted, we could increase food security overnight by reducing or cutting out waste: this applies in the home, in supermarkets and other retail sectors, hospitals, schools, restaurants, hotels, pubs…..and many other places.
Russia and Ukraine are massive producers of wheat, accounting for about 18% and 12% of international exports respectively. Our farmers and growers are in the middle of a big transition brought about by changes to funding structures following Brexit; they can increase production but they are enveloped in massive price hikes in diesel, fertilisers and other essentials. No-one can predict with any degree of certainty when the war will end but, whatever happens, it will take time for Ukrainian and Russian farming to return to normal – and very considerably longer before we can trust Russia.
Our farmers are key to UK food security and they can be relied upon to adjust and up production but in the background is another vast long-term risk: climate change. The planet is warming up but more rapidly than originally anticipated. The uncertainty and unpredictability of Extreme Weather Events (EWE) is already having an adverse effect on farming in all parts of the world. Farmers are used to adapting and coping with ‘weather’ but EWEs are fiercer and more regular.
We need farming to be sustainable and reliable – and this has to include farmers being paid a fair price. Watching farming and other rural-related programmes on television it is easy to assume that working in a rural industry is problem-free and idyllic. Forget it: farming and other land-based industries are demanding and very tough. Interestingly, despite long hours, very hard work and unexpected emergencies, the vast majority of people working in farming or another land-based sector remain
passionately and indefatigably committed.
We can help to ensure GB food security by supporting the British Business Campaign being led by MHA MacIntyre Hudson (one of the UK’s leading accountancy firms) and the Rural Focus Press Group.
We can demonstrate appreciation for our farmers’ efforts by supporting the British Business Campaign being led by MHA MacIntyre Hudson (one of the UK’s leading accountancy firms) and the Rural Focus Press Group.
NOTE: the Kent County Show is back at the Kent Showground, Detling, Friday 8th – Sunday 10th July
The Rural Focus Group, led by Pat Crawford, includes representatives/individuals from the Kings Hill Directory, National Farmers’ Union, Country Landowners’ Association, Action for Communities in Rural Kent, The English Apple Man, , Hadlow Rural Community School, Greenwich University, Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, Ken Lyndon-Dykes, Kent Farmers’ Market Association, Friends of the Earth, Kent Young Farmers, Professor Ian Swingland, Produced in Kent, Men of Kent and Kentish Men, Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution, Kent Tree and Pond Partnership, East Malling Research, et cetera