By Aimee Mahony, chief poultry advisor, NFU
I’ve been grappling recently with how to balance the increasing need to raise the profile of industry issues without sounding negative all the time. As someone with an outlook more akin to a glass half full rather than a glass half empty, increased media coverage of the challenges facing food and farming in recent weeks has contributed to this conundrum.
The Farm to Fork Summit on food security, which Prime Minster Rishi Sunak hosted at 10 Downing Street in May has sparked many a viewpoint, but I personally feel that the event marked a significant step in providing the recognition of the strategic importance of British food and farming. It also means that the Prime Minister kept to the promise to host a summit which he made last year during a hustings event at the NFU headquarters.
We don’t want or need empty promises and whilst there may be a long way to go to reap any significant rewards, we must recognise that positive steps are being made in the right direction and we need more of these steps to come to fruition.
The summit itself included announcements on reviews into fairness in the egg supply chain, a commitment to not merge the Groceries Code Adjudicator with the Competition and Markets Authority and an additional investment of up to around £30 million to unlock the potential of precision breeding. In addition to this there was also a focus on international trade and the government made a number of commitments on issues relating to future Free Trade Agreements and export opportunities for farmers, many of these areas we have been highlighting for some time.
It’s imperative that UK food security is taken seriously by the government, and everybody has a role to play in highlighting its importance. Sometimes without knowing it, we are all lobbyists in some capacity or another. We need to collectively keep up the momentum and demonstrate the impacts the challenges being faced by the industry are having not only today but also the likelihood of future consequences on domestic food production.
Thinking back to the challenge of ensuring the key messages and asks are well understood by those in a position of power – we all need to continue to beat that drum alongside awareness that positivity in terms of the outlook for the industry is becoming more important than ever and this will help to ensure that there is a future for the sector moving forwards.