The Farmers’ Union of Wales has expressed outrage at the leaked comments which were made by UK Treasury Advisor, Mr Tim Leunig, earlier this month. As part of the comments made, Mr Leunig stated that the UK does not need its own agricultural industry.
The statement made by the Treasury Advisor included comments which asserted that the food sector is not “critically important” to the UK economy and that agriculture and fishery production “certainly isn’t” important to our economy.
On a similar vein, Senior Economic Advisor Rishi Sunak, who had plans to abolish tax subsidies on red diesel, posited that the UK could follow the Singapore model ‘which is rich without having its own agricultural sector’.
Aside from producing safe, nutritious, high welfare and environmentally conscious food, Welsh farmers deliver a wealth of other societal needs and wants such as carbon sequestration, preservation of historical features, mitigation of rural depopulation, preservation of the Welsh language, flood management and so on. It remains extremely frustrating that the largely significant contributions that farmers already make towards mitigating climate change, maintaining rural landscapes and ensuring domestic food security are often ignored by some politicians.
The recent covid-19 pandemic has served to reinforce the FUW’s firm belief that domestic food security is imperative and the union has called on both the UK and Welsh governments to protect food producers and rural communities.
The current pandemic has had a significant impact on food supply chains; with panic buying and other factors leading to shortages of certain foodstuffs and this has brought the importance of maintaining UK food security rapidly into sharp focus. The more complex the supply chain the greater the fragility and it is rather telling that Singapore’s dedicated agency for food security has included a policy which aims to increase domestic food production.