Food Supply and Security - Motion to Consider

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:45 pm on 14th May 2020.

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Photo of Lord Cameron of Dillington Lord Cameron of Dillington Crossbench 1:45 pm, 14th May 2020

My Lords, Covid-19 has shown the importance of having a resilient food industry. It is obvious that our food security needs to be under constant review. We do not need dodgy imports that undercut our own agriculture, and, as we move away from the cosy security of the CAP, we must ensure that our own high-quality domestic agriculture remains the foundation of our nation’s food security policy.

For instance, we need to train farmers and encourage the higher production of pulses and vegetables from our own resources. We must ensure that all government institutions buy local, as in France, and with the people’s new love of their local countryside, we must encourage them also to buy the food whose production creates that countryside—we must teach them to eat the view.

That brings me to my main point. In looking at agriculture, we must step back. We must never look at our food production in isolation or in a food silo. It is rural resilience that we seek. Our countryside provides many benefits: landscape, biodiversity, energy, timber, health, spiritual health and, of course, food. We must encourage the best management of our countryside to produce all those benefits.

It is currently hard for a family farm to survive on food production alone, so, particularly in remote parts of Britain, we must help them diversify. Also, we must help the farming household to find cash wages from jobs off the farm to ensure the survival of the farm itself.

The importance of the wider rural economy to the resilience of family farms and all they produce, including food, cannot be overestimated. The further you go from urban centres, the more and more that rings true.