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Call for ‘urgent’ four-nations talks on impact of Ukraine war on food security

09 Apr 2022 3 minute read
Soil tilling

An urgent four-nations summit should take place to consider how to respond to “hardship” in the food sector linked to the Ukraine crisis, Scotland’s Rural Affairs Secretary has said.

Mairi Gougeon said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has had a “significant impact” on the UK’s food supply chain.

And while the Scottish Government has already set up its own taskforce to consider the issue, Ms Gougeon insisted action was needed across the United Kingdom.

She has now written to her UK counterpart, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary George Eustice, telling him that the “sharp rise” in fuel prices resulting from the conflict is “contributing to the hardship being felt by our own food production sector”.

Ms Gougeon said: “We have reports of these costs making it unviable for some fishing vessels to leave port, pig production costs becoming untenable, the food processing and storage sectors being hit hard with the general rise in primary product cost and the removal of tax relief for red diesel causing price increases beyond the levels of the limited fuel rebate.”

While she said ministers in the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) had previously pledged to have “regular discussions” with the governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on the issue, Ms Gougeon claimed there had been “no opportunity for discussions with UK Government”.

The Scottish Rural Affairs Secretary told Mr Eustice: “I am concerned that this lack of engagement will only lead again to suffering by Scottish businesses who were left fighting for support to continue to deliver exports following the Brexit deal.”

Global uncertainty 

Ms Gougeon added: “At this time of global uncertainty when we must have food security, I have set up together with Scottish industry, a Food Security and Supply Taskforce to monitor, identify and respond to any potential disruption to the food and drink supply chain resulting from the impact of the war in Ukraine.

“It will seek to recommend any short, medium and longer-term actions that can be taken to mitigate impacts, resolve supply issues and strengthen food security and supply in Scotland.

“This taskforce met for the second time last week, and we noted that the significant increase in fuel cost is clearly jeopardising the ability of our food producers to provide resilience in supply.

“We would be happy to share our findings with you and the other devolved administrations.

“I would like to propose an urgent four-nation summit to discuss the significant impact of this, and possible options for support.”

Defra confirmed that the Environment Secretary has received the letter, saying he would “respond in due course”.

Mark Drakeford

Last month the Welsh government was urged to make food security a key element of its support for farmers and First Minister Mark Drakeford was pressed to convene a food summit – including farmers, processors, and retailers – to build resilience into the food supply chain.

In a debate on food security in the Senedd in March, Shadow Rural Affairs Minister Samuel Kurtz said: “All our leaders have a duty to ensure food security is part of the overall security agenda.

“Strengthening domestic food production will make Wales more resilient to shocks in the global system and less reliant on food imports.

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Y Cymro
Y Cymro
2 years ago

Four nations working together as equals with ideas tailored to each nations needs rather than a Tory amalgamated centralised amorphous political blob where decisions are made soley in Whitehall in which they prefer a one-English-size-fits-all system as their solution which benefits only one rather than all the politics of the past. It’s horrible being dependent on others isn’t it Boris Johnson & England? So now you know what Wales has been going through all these centuries. And the war in Ukraine has removed the Brexit swagger revealing that we are not as self-sufficient as once thought. The reality is we’ve… Read more »

2 years ago

Why wait for UK gov to organise it? Can’t the other nations organise it and England can join?

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
2 years ago
Reply to  Ieu

Indeed. Time waits for no one, even England. We need to act now. And if this means a Celtic coalition. So be it.

Klaus Roobeth
Klaus Roobeth
2 years ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Given that most of the UKs grain is grown in England, your e**no coalition might not get off the ground.

2 years ago
Reply to  Klaus Roobeth

It seems she’s proposing a coalition of representatives of the devolved governments of the member countries of the UK if the Westminster government refuse to participate. It might turn out to be the only alternative if the UK government refuses to participate as representatives of England, but it would not be an “ethno” coalition, since the devolved parliaments are not based on that principle. It would be hoped that the UK government would take part, since their contribution would be welcome.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
2 years ago

A quick look suggests uk farmers grew a quarter ton of wheat per person i.e. some 450 lbs in 2019…that’s a lot of toast, now add the cheese produced in 2021, some half a million short tons, that is a lot of Welsh Rarebit…if you add all the veg grown by farmers like Tatws Bryn and the abundance of Welsh lamb we are swimming in Cawl all cooked using renewable energy. I think we will not go hungry in Wales… Canada has banned the sale of houses to incomers for two years I have just found out, that is something… Read more »

Last edited 2 years ago by Mab Meirion

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