Food Supply and Security - Motion to Consider

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:39 pm on 14th May 2020.

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Photo of Lord Taylor of Holbeach Lord Taylor of Holbeach Conservative 1:39 pm, 14th May 2020

My Lords, the House will probably be aware of my horticultural and agricultural interests in the register, which I declare. I am fortunate to live at the heart of my family business; the last eight weeks have been an opportunity to reconnect with my roots after a long spell of time spent in government and the House. I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Boycott, for leading this debate and I hope that she enjoyed a very happy birthday yesterday. Of course, yesterday was also a birthday for gardening and horticulture with the reopening of garden centres. I thank my noble friend the Minister for all he did to make that happen. We are very lucky to have his commitment to farming and the countryside.

Growing is about excellence. If we have learned anything from Covid-19 and the importance of food security, it is that we should back farmers and growers to regenerate our industry. As with medicine, we have excellent science in ag and hort—NIAB, Kew, John Innes, Rothamsted—and there really is no conflict between efficient farming and the environment. The only flowers now blooming in our daffodil fields are specially drilled field margins for bird life and pollinators. In the Lincolnshire silt lands, we have the most intensive agricultural production in the country, but you will also find trees, hedges, spinneys and owl boxes, which were not there a generation ago. Good can come out of this terrible time and the Agriculture Bill—likely to shortly come before us—gives us a real opportunity, post Brexit, to release this huge economic potential and build a prosperous industry for the future.