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NFU: No need to apologise for end of cheap food era 20.07.07

The drive for cheap food has been at the root of many farming and rural problems over the last decade and the lifting of commodity prices to more sustainable levels will be good news for the rural economy and the countryside, according to NFU President Peter Kendall.

But during his speech at the Royal Welsh Show, at Builth Wells on Sunday, Mr Kendall will say that it is vital that farmgate prices in the livestock and dairy sectors increase to reflect the substantial rise in cereals and oilseeds prices and other inputs of production.

“The era of cheap food at any cost is over and I, for one, will not be missing it”, said Mr. Kendall.

“We are witnessing a sea-change in world commodity markets and this should be reflected at the farm level – otherwise, it will be all too clear that the supply chain is not working properly. For too long farmgate prices have lagged behind rises in production costs and in the cost of living; even for sectors that have experienced increases in recent months, like dairy and cereals, farmgate prices are still lower than they had been ten years ago. Rising farmgate prices are long overdue and they cannot come at a better time for cereal growers and dairy and livestock farmers, for whom this dismal summer might otherwise have been the last straw.

“Food has never been cheaper, with consumers spending less than 9 per cent of their income on food, compared with more than 22 per cent just forty years ago. Food price increases are both affordable and needed.”

“A recovery in farmgate prices is good news not only for British farmers but also for the rural economy as it means more resources becoming available for countryside management, more spending in the rural economy, more investment in farm infrastructure and fewer farming families being forced to leave the land. The fact that world commodity prices are reaching more sustainable levels is also good news for farmers in the developing world, who will at last be able to realise their agricultural potential.”

“Many of the problems that have made farming so difficult for the past 20 years can ultimately be traced to the drive for cheap food at any cost, not only in Britain, but around the world. It is about time that the trend reverses and we do not need to apologise for it”, said Mr. Kendall.

Peter Shield

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National Farmer’s Union Website

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