Ukraine crisis adds to fears over world food production

With the conflict in Ukraine leading to growing fears over world food production, Scotland’s farmers are calling for changes to farm support rules in order to allow crops to be grown on ecological focus area land.
Martin Kennedy NFU Scotland presidentMartin Kennedy NFU Scotland president
Martin Kennedy NFU Scotland president

NFU Scotland said yesterday that it continued to offer support to fellow farmers in Ukraine as the humanitarian crisis caused by the Russian invasion deepened.

“The farming community’s thoughts are firmly with the Ukrainian nation at this dreadful time, and it is already apparent that the aftershocks of the crisis will be felt well beyond the conflict,” said union president, Martin Kennedy.

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However, the important role played by Ukraine in world agriculture and food production was becoming increasingly clear.

“With global supply chains already highly vulnerable, and many countries around the world reliant on Ukraine's agricultural produce as well as Russia’s food, fertiliser and gas supplies, a rise in grain prices or a significant drop in production is certain to have huge knock-on effects for food consumers as well as food producers,” said Kennedy.

He said that concerns over future supplies had seen wheat futures hit a 14-year high and the wheat market had jumped more than 40 per cent over the course of the past week - with prices of up to £310 being quoted for old season crop.

In order to help improve the resilience of food supplies, Kennedy said the union had written to the Scottish Government calling for a moratorium on support scheme rules which took land out of food production.

“The Union is asking that more land in Scotland be made available for food production considering the uncertain impact on global food supply the war in Ukraine will cause.”

Stresing that nothing could eclipse the scale of the humanitarian crisis currently being experienced and witnessed in Ukraine, he said the situation underlined the fragility and the vulnerability of people everywhere.

“The human cost of the invasion within Ukraine is already tragic, but the possibility of other potential impacts due to the country's importance to the global agriculture market can be neither understated nor ignored.

“We are in very challenging and extraordinary times and Scotland’s farmers want to play their part in any national or European effort to address the growing concerns around future food security.”

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By removing restrictions placed on cropping and farming land, he said that an area of land equivalent to 25,000 rugby pitches could be freed up to grow cereals, nitrogen-fixing protein crops such as peas and beans or grass and forage for livestock.

“While there is a clear desire to help, the biggest stumbling block facing farmers is the rocketing cost and availability of inputs. Fertiliser and fuel prices have more than doubled in the past 12 months to record levels, turning crop production plans upside down.”

Adding that counteractions were likely to the sanctions applied to Russsia, he concluded:

“Inevitable supply disruption will stretch availability of the inputs needed to grow crops to breaking point, let alone affordability.”



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