High wheat prices are naturally enough encouraging UK farmers to switch more of their vegetable growing land over to wheat. Last years floods devastated certain farming areas with some broccoli growers going to the wall. More consumers want local veg but unless they’re prepared to pay more they’re not going to get it.
Unless prices paid to farmers increase by 30% during 2008 it is claimed the consumer will see less UK grown veg on the shelves for 2009 because farmers will switch away to other sources of income.
Both Gordon Brown and David Cameron have expressed their concern about our food security but what are they proposing to do? The free market is devastating a number of food sectors so should we return to the days of subsidies? ‘No’ says the president of the NFU, ‘let the market steer decision making’.
There are wider concerns for UK food security. East Anglia grows 37% of UK outdoor vegetables but lies below sea level. If storm surges start to break the levies more frequently this supply area could be threatened.
We need a considered and coordinated approach from informed agencies to bring together a more sustainable plan for UK agriculture. We don’t want to return to the days of high subsidy but, there does need to be a less chaotic approach than that of the market as the only influence on decisions.
Source: BBC4, Farming Today.