NSA urges Tim Leunig and anti-farming lobbys to think again
20th March 2020
In a period when we appear to lurch from crisis to crisis, COVID-19 being probably the most serious of recent times, the National Sheep Association (NSA) is asking Government and policy advisors to do more to connect how all these crises fit together, and to remember the absolutely crucial role of farming and keeping food in front of the nation.
NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker comments: “There can be no dispute that nations across the globe are in a real crisis that is affecting health and livelihood as well as economies. Its no surprise that many people are taking measures to give themselves some security in the basics of life. It can’t be condoned but panic buying is what many people do and in addition to medicines and toilet rolls it is food that is now bearing the brunt of this.
Its also true that at the moment there is probably no shortage of food, its just not available to many and the nature of the supply chain means it's easy for panic buying to take place and easy for replacements stocks to be slow coming through.
If supply chains of domestic food are struggling, then it’s worth considering global supply chains and how they are easily disrupted and how ‘just in time’ can quickly turn into ‘not quite in time’.
It’s ironic that so many retailers’ shelves are empty just two weeks after Govt advisor Tim Leunig’s advice was that Britain didn’t need farmers – we are powerful and wealthy enough to bring it all in from wherever we choose. I find it hugely sad that it takes a crisis such as the one we are experiencing to remind us of the importance of being able to feed ourselves and to contribute to feeding others.
Britain is an incredibly fertile country with weather conditions normally well suited to food production, and much of our wildlife live hand in hand with the farmed environment. Occurrences such as COVID 19 have to act as a wakeup call because the disruption being seen to supply chains could be brought about by any other challenge to society, be it climate change, economic disruption, or serious political unrest – and it's not difficult to see all these things connected and related to each other.
If anyone tells you that farming here in Britain is not important, whether its Tim Leunig looking through theoretic financial lenses or George Monbiot looking through warped environmental ones then let's remind them that hungry people are not happy or healthy people and that resilient farming here in the UK, that can create and live alongside the conditions wildlife need, is the way we want our countryside to be managed.”