London, United Kingdom | AFP |
Britain’s main farming union last week warned that the country is facing a food supply crisis as producers grapple with skyrocketing costs.
The National Farmers Union (NFU) said huge price hikes have left farmers and growers in an “emergency situation”.
Fertiliser, feed, fuel and energy are all now more expensive due to the pandemic’s disruption of supply chains and the war in Ukraine.
“The danger is that we produce less and less of our food here, and we become ever more reliant on imports,” NFU president Minette Batters told a London news conference.
Eggs have already become scarcer and more expensive as a result of additional costs, coupled with a local outbreak of bird flu.
That has prompted many UK supermarkets to temporarily ration the purchase of eggs: empty shelves have become a common sight for shoppers.
The NFU said the supply of tomatoes, cucumbers and pears was likely to be affected next, because they come from energy-intensive crops.
The union called for cost-sharing and more “fairness” in the supply chain from intermediaries such as packers and distributors.
The NFU said there were 7,000 fewer farm businesses in Britain than in 2019 — a drop of almost five percent.
The cost of nitrogen fertilisers has risen by 240 percent while wholesale gas has undergone a massive 650 percent increase in the last three years.
The cost of living is a major issue around the world but Britain’s farmers are also suffering from the consequences of the country’s departure from the European Union.
Brexit has made it harder to hire EU workers, which British agriculture has relied upon, due to tougher immigration rules.
The NFU wants the government to grant more seasonal worker visas to make sure crops do not rot in the ground due to a lack of people to pick them.
In response, the UK government said the country had “a high degree of food security” from diverse sources, describing the food supply chain as “highly resilient”.
© Agence France-Presse