From the editor: Broken supply chain needs fixing before farming can move forward

How much consumers pay for their goods remains one of the core issues debated in UK agriculture

It is not often you go to an NFU press conference and come away thinking about the very essence of farming and how it shapes its future, but this is what seemed to happen to me this week.

I am not decrying the usual speeches of NFU president Meurig Raymond, of course, but the debate at this week’s Great Yorkshire Show, about what a future British agricultural policy looks like, seemed to encompass a wider dialogue about the direction the industry wants to take.

With the CLA and TFA both weighing in at Harrogate, there is currently talk across the industry about starting with a blank piece of paper when it comes to British agricultural policy objectives. However, to fill the piece of paper with ideas of substance, the industry, at every level, needs to decide what it wants the future to look like.

There is a choice between retaining subsidies or abolishing them and leaving returns to the marketplace; there is a question of whether to bring in a margin insurance policy such as the Canada model (p8-9); and there are questions aplenty about what the red tape burden should be.

More fundamentally, however, the debate seems to return to core issues of food prices and what consumers should be paying.

It seems to be a simple equation and it was voiced several times at the Great Yorkshire – consumers should pay more for their food than the current rock bottom prices which have led to it being treated as an undervalued, throwaway commodity.

This would then allow supermarkets, other retailers and processors to pay a fair price to farmers who, subsequently, no longer need to rely on the public purse for support.

Some will argue this is too simplistic, but the truth remains that as long as we persevere with a food supply chain which punishes farmers with unsustainably low prices and makes them shoulder all the risk, the industry will never encourage progressive practice free of the subsidy culture.


Ben Briggs
Posted by Ben Briggs
PopularCommentsRSS Feed
Twitter Facebook
Rating (0 vote/s)
Post a Comment
To see comments and join in the conversation please log in.

Recent Posts

Recent Posts

From the editor: Come on vegans, isn't it about time we had a rational debate?
"I don't think Dairy Farmers can have a rational "...
From the editor: Dairy industry collaboration is the only way forward
"The milk market has set back a lot of farmers who "...
Opinion- Justin Fox, historian and environmentalist
"Yes, there's a ridiculous amount of hyperbolae "...
Young Farmer Focus: Sophie Barnes, Taupo, New Zealand
"Brilliant get up & go for it attitude that NZs "...
From the editor: Rural communities need more than just vast housing estates
"You need to hit the National Planning Policy F"...
FG Insight and FGInsight.com are trademarks of Briefing Media Ltd.
Farmers Guardian and FarmersGuardian.com are trademarks of Farmers Guardian Ltd, a subsidiary of Briefing Media Ltd.
All material published on FGInsight.com and FarmersGuardian.com is copyrighted © 2016 by Briefing Media Limited. All rights reserved.
RSS news feeds