Food Security

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:00 pm on 31st March 2022.

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Photo of Deidre Brock Deidre Brock Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Wales), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 3:00 pm, 31st March 2022

I absolutely agree with the right hon. Gentleman. NFUs across the UK have been calling for that for some time. It will be interesting to hear the Minister’s answer to that point. Another consequence of Brexit is that UK farmers will miss out on access to the EU’s proposed €1.5 billion fund to counter food insecurity. The SNP thinks that food security funds equivalent to what UK farmers would have received as part of the EU should be established immediately; that would certainly go towards helping some of the problems that farmers and agricultural industries are experiencing at the moment. The funds should be appropriately allocated to the different Governments of the four nations.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow South West pointed out yesterday to the Prime Minister, we must also make serious efforts to cut down on our food waste. Over 2 million tonnes of edible food is wasted on farms and in factories every year. There was a scheme introduced in 2019 to help farmers get food to charities and reach those in need; it was successful but its funding has not been renewed. I am hoping that the Government and the Minister will be able to give us some assurance that they are listening to the calls from Feeding Britain, Good Food Scotland and FareShare that those initiatives be continued.

Many of us have been warning about our food security for years, particularly in the face of Brexit. Frankly, it always seemed like we were being ignored. The crisis in Ukraine has dramatically thrust this issue centre stage. However, we have to remember that there were systemic issues both at home and abroad. We need to build resilience into the farming system for the long term, not lurch from one crisis to the next—as the Sustain alliance rightly says. I am fully aware that this is a very difficult balancing act for all Governments, but the thistle must be grasped. The consequences of failing to act are just too terrible to contemplate.