Food Supply and Security - Motion to Consider

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:06 pm on 14th May 2020.

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Photo of The Earl of Caithness The Earl of Caithness Conservative 2:06 pm, 14th May 2020

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Boycott, for this important debate and her comprehensive introduction. Will my noble friend the Minister join me in thanking our farmers and agribusiness for adapting so quickly and keeping food available to us all at a still remarkably low price? It is a sadness that some farming businesses, particularly dairy and ornamental businesses, have not survived or will not survive.

As Covid-19 is a worldwide problem, food imported from overseas will affect our food supply later this year. Some countries, such as Russia and India, are restricting exporting some foodstuffs, while the USA will dump surplus grain on the market. When considering this trade, however, we must remember how important our own food exports are to our industry.

When looking at any food system, one needs to look at health, the environment and food security. Perhaps more challenging to our farmers than Covid-19 has been the weather of the last nine months. Clearly, climate change will alter what we farm and the way we farm it. Our farmers are adapting to this and to the need to improve our biodiversity. In the past they have done what the Government requested, and they will continue to produce top-quality food—but much of this will then be processed, as the noble Baroness, Lady Boycott, told us. No one would put diesel in a petrol vehicle. Given the harm this food does to us and the cost to the NHS and the economy, what plans does my noble friend have to stop us being the processed food capital of Europe and eating so much poison?