UK heading for food crisis, farmers fear
Faced with soaring costs, the food supply could run out
After shortages of eggs, tomatoes and pears could run out: hit by soaring costs, the United Kingdom is heading straight for a food supply crisis, the main British agricultural union warned on Tuesday. Ultimately, “the danger is that we produce ever less of our food here and that we depend ever more on imports”, affirmed during a press conference in London Minette Batters, president of the NFU (National Farmers’ Union).
UK farmers are in ‘an emergency’ according to the union, hit by soaring costs for fertiliser, feed, fuel and energy as linked supply chains are disrupted to the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. Eggs have already become more rare and expensive with these additional costs, to which was added a local epidemic of avian flu. Many British supermarkets are reduced to rationing the purchase.
Faced with this situation, the costs must be shared, according to the union, which is asking intermediary companies, in particular responsible for packaging or distributors, “more equity” in the supply chain, added Ms. Batters.
According to the union, there are 7,000 fewer agricultural companies in the country than in 2019 – a drop of almost 5% – while nitrogen fertilizers, for example, increased by 240% and gas sold in bulk suffered a drop. massive increase of 650% over this three-year period. But beyond the issues of costs, which are soaring all over the world, farmers across the Channel are also suffering from the consequences of Brexit, which has notably complicated the hiring of European workers on whom the agricultural sector relied.
The NFU is calling on the government to grant more seasonal worker visas, as some growers have seen some of their crops rot on the vine this year for lack of hands to harvest them.
The country has “a high degree of food security”, the government said in a statement sent to AFP, ensuring that it is in contact with the food and agricultural sectors “to ensure that they are well prepared for a range of scenarios. “
Food and Agriculture Minister Mark Spencer is due to meet representatives of egg producers on Tuesday. “The UK has an extensive and highly resilient food supply chain” which relies on “strong domestic production as well as imports through stable trade routes,” the executive added.