The next few months will see the closest fought election in a generation. Already the economy, welfare, health and education have been occupying headline space as some of the most important issues which affect people and therefore their vote. But where is food in this debate? More importantly, where is safe, secure, traceable British food?
Feeding a growing global population of nine billion people by 2050 is one of the world's biggest challenges--especially in the context of rapid urbanisation, rising amounts of food waste and climate change. During one day of discussions senior executives from agribusiness, policymaking and the NGO community examined approaches to food and nutrition security.
After two years, the government's own results clearly show the pilot culls have failed to deliver on either effectiveness or humaneness.
When it was broadcast on the radio "eat less" came out as a ridiculous blunder - as if I had said that people who were hungry or could only afford to eat hamburgers should eat less. Of course poor people don't have any choice. Half the world is hungry, poverty increases; everyone is so worried. Therefore people were angry with me. Luckily the press then reported my interview in full and this cleared up what I was really trying to say. They quoted me, "What's good for the planet is good for people". Most importantly the press then posted the fundamental question: Is Big Ag.( agricultural capitalism) good or bad? This is the urgent debate we must have.
The spectre of avian influenza has once again been raised by a double-strike in Europe. The highly contagious strain, H5N8, which could potentially affect people, has been discovered on a Dutch poultry farm, whilst a further case has been found on a duck breeding farm in Yorkshire, England, although the strain has yet to be confirmed.
This week heralded an all too familiar event in the UK Parliament - a House of Commons debate on the badger cull. With the second year of culling having very recently completed, politicians and animal lovers alike are eagerly awaiting the news of just how many badgers were killed over the last six weeks in Gloucestershire and Somerset.
While 500million smallholder farmers work to overcome the odds, a handful of global companies control the transport and distribution of our food supply. Rampant consolidation of food companies has created an 'hourglass economy' with millions of farmers selling to a handful of companies - who in turn sell to millions of consumers.
It is undoubtedly a very frustrating and worrying time for British dairy farmers. Milk prices are plummeting. With increased milk supply around the world and demand not increasing at the same pace, huge pressure has been put on milk values. For some it means they are now only getting around 25 pence-per-litre for their product. With the cost of production sitting much higher than this it is no wonder that many fear for the future of their farm businesses... What we also know is that it is clear that the British public want to back British farming and continue to support British dairy farmers during this difficult time.
Farmers are committing suicide as you read this article. In countries like India, the rate of farmer suicides has become a national crisis. The World Health Organization (WHO) is particularly concerned with farmer suicides because of the impact it is having on families. WHO estimates that one person commits suicide every 13.3 minutes.
This year there has been a slide in the proportion of food produced in the UK for British consumers. We're calling on government, the food industry and shoppers to put British farming - and feeding the nation - at the heart of their decision making. We're now just 60% self sufficient - despite British farmers being geared up to produce more, sustainably, for the long term.