Listen – Farming & Food Insecurity at Future Farmers Breakfast Meeting

‘Farming & Food Insecurity’ was the topical subject of discussion as members of Future Farmers of Yorkshire came together for their annual Great Yorkshire Show Breakfast Meeting.

The breakfast is a firm fixture of the Show and was held at the new GYS Stage on the morning of Wednesday 13th July where a knowledgeable panel gave their take on pressing issues in British agriculture.

Some 135 members came along for the meeting which was chaired by Future Farmers Management Board Member Nicolle Hamilton and was kindly sponsored by GSC Grays and the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.

If you were unable to join us, you will find below some audio clips from our speakers and short summaries of some of the key points they made.

Setting the scene

Nicolle Hamilton (pictured below, left), Marketing & Communications Director at GSC Grays

Food security has been brought into sharp focus with the newly published National Food Strategy, the impact of the war on Ukraine and the Agricultural Transition Plan.

There’s no doubt that the global food system is in crisis with unprecedented pressure on the sector.

Nicolle Hamilton at the Future Farmers Breakfast

Our Speakers

Sophie Throup, Head of Agriculture, Fisheries and Sustainable Sourcing for Wm Morrisons

Sophie said that with food inflation likely to reach 15 per cent this summer as a result of pressures created by the Ukraine war, Morrisons was taking its responsibilities to its customers and farmers seriously.

We have a huge responsibility to our customers in helping to make sure food is affordable and accessible… but we also have a customer base who hugely respect and want to buy British.

We are 100% British for all of our fresh meat, milk, eggs and produce when in season and for us, it’s really important that that stays that way.

The most important thing for us is it’s not about abandoning those principles; it’s not about opening the doors to imports; it’s about keeping that British principal absolutely strong… but to do that we appreciate that needs additional support.

Hear more from Sophie, including how Morrisons is working with its farmer suppliers to weather economic pressures:

Holly Story, Rural Director of GSC Grays

Holly discussed how Britain must strive to meet the challenge of food security at the same time as embracing environmental targets to mitigate climate change.

The question I get asked probably most often is this: with everything going on in the world, should we not be focusing on food security instead of green initiatives?

I have to say when I hear this question, my heart sinks a little bit… because it’s the wrong question. It’s the word ‘instead’ that I take issue with.

Yes, we should be focused on food security but we can’t pursue an acceleration or expansion of agricultural production that ignores or contributes to continued environmental degradation.

That might be an easy win, but I believe it would be counter-productive.

Hear more from Holly:

Tom Bradshaw, NFU Deputy President

Tom (pictured below) described the challenge to produce food ever more sustainably, whilst delivering environmental good as “a really exciting prospect” but he said that British farmers need to be enabled to embrace that vision by market forces.

Tom Bradshaw

We are only going to be sustainable in the future if we are also profitable, and the challenge at the moment, with the cost of living crisis, is that we don’t see all retailers putting their arms around production and making sure that we are going to be here producing next year and the year after… to enable us to produce sustainability, we have to be producing profitably.

Hear Tom’s comments in full:

Joss Spilman of Spilman Farming

Joss (pictured at the top of the page) explained how important it was that government policy robustly empowers British farmers to meet the challenges of bolstering the UK’s food security.

I believe that British farmers have a huge role in ensuring the food security of the UK now and in the future… (but) wild swings in the value of inputs and outputs increase the risk of running a farm business and take up higher levels of working capital for potentially a very small or lower return.

Farmers are perfectly capable of maintaining production and caring for the environment at the same time… (but) if Sustainable Farming Incentive payments remain at their current levels and the Countryside Stewardship Scheme isn’t replaced by a suitable level in the Environmental Land Management Scheme, then a lot of good management over the years could be undone as farmers decide the reward isn’t worth the hassle and they proceed down the route of maximum production from their acreage.

Listen to more from Joss:

This event was kindly sponsored by GSC Grays

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Future Farmers meet with Victoria PrentisFarming Charity in Harrogate