Janet Hughes of DEFRA gave a scary interview to Farming Today on Thursday 1 April. She spoke as an enthusiast for the new system of farm financial support which she is designing and directing. She did not once mention food growing as important or worthy of support. When asked about food growing she expressed an unsubstantiated hope there would be no fall in food growing as a result yet identified a number of schemes designed to reduce the area given over to food production and a number of favoured ways of farming likely to cut output.
Why wasn’t a Minister giving the interview? Why aren’t Ministers keeping their promises to Parliament to boost food production? UK farming has to compete with many global food producers working in countries that do subsidise farming to achieve more output. I will be taking this up with Ministers.
I am pleased to see the supermarkets replying to my questions on how they can do more to promote UK food and farming. Their own surveys confirm that more U.K. customers want to buy British. The strong support for local businesses and farmers markets underlines this. All can do more. We do not want to wild all our land but to drive more productive agriculture which can also create a beautiful landscape.
There is huge scope to direct grant and subsidy to help farmers raise their productivity extend their growing season through helpful investment.