Food Security

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:51 pm on 31st March 2022.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Labour, Bristol East 3:51 pm, 31st March 2022

In that case, I will not give way.

When I look at the trends in the global food system, my view is that it is broken. It has become incredibly reliant on huge agribusinesses that engage in heavily intensive practices that are massively destructive to the environment. There have recently been reports that the global food giant Cargill has refused to pull out of Russia, and it has repeatedly been linked to deforestation in the Amazon. JBS is another huge agribusiness that is complicit in rampant deforestation and modern slavery on Brazilian ranches. We should not be dependent on global food corporations that churn out poor-quality, mass-produced food that is bad for human health, global security and the planet.

Obviously, one of the solutions is to grow more at home. I was very pleased that the Minister met me the week before last to talk about peri-urban farming. Ideally, the Government will meet their pledge to put more money into county farms, which was made some years ago. I am slightly worried that it has dropped off the agenda, but I am pleased that the Minister is taking up some of the points that we make. The shorter supply chains are, the better, so that we can grow food closer to home and cut out food miles as well. We need to support agroecology, and we also need to tackle food waste, as I have said many times.

The final point I want to make is about supporting some of the sectors that do not get talked about. There is a big focus on red meat and dairy in this country. When I went to meet representatives of Pulses UK, it was the first time they had met a politician for such a long time. We can grow so many pulses and legumes in this country, and we can also use them to make more innovative products. One of the things that that side of the industry is crying out for is support on research and development, so that it can develop value-added products. In the industrial strategy, food barely gets a mention. If the Minister could take one thing away, I would urge her to look at how we can support farmers to grow more here, to sell more here and to flourish.