NSA emphasises urgent need for UK Food Strategy amidst global food crisis

23rd May 2022

The National Sheep Association (NSA) is urgently calling for the release of the Government’s long awaited UK Food Strategy following the UN’s warning of an imminent global food crisis due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Following a UN meeting last week, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation called for a ‘transformation’ of agriculture to make it more resilient to shocks, highlighting that according to the Global Report on Food Crises, 193 million people were acutely food insecure and in need of urgent assistance across 53 countries.

NSA Chief Executive, Phil Stocker says: “We are fortunate in the UK that our farming practices are leading the world in climate friendly, high quality production. We have access to advanced technology, precision equipment and extensive access to improved genetics key to tackling a looming food crisis. Sheep farming is a sector that is delivering for rural communities, production and the environment, often through challenging circumstances in part because of its low reliance on inputs and also because of our diverse range of market opportunities.”

Together Russia and Ukraine produce 30% of the global wheat supply, with Ukraine in particular being seen as the world’s breadbasket. The recent conflict has cut off supplies from Ukraine's ports, which once exported vast amounts of cooking oil as well as cereals such as maize and wheat, causing a reduction in the global supply and a soar in the price of alternatives. According to the UN, global food prices are almost 30% higher than at the same time last year.

The UN Director-General has said there needs to be a "transformation of agrifood systems to be more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable." Noting that we ‘must scale up emergency agricultural assistance. Currently, only 8% of all food security funding in emergencies goes to assist agricultural production,” emphasising that investing in agriculture and rural livelihoods was strategic, and seven to 10 times more cost-effective than traditional assistance.

Mr Stocker highlights: “There is still a lack of vision from the UK Government when it comes to food security and feeding the country. Many of the future farming schemes under development could help lead us to a better and more resilient and sustainable food sector – but there is still an absence of the vision, and a strategy, to deliver truly integrated ambitions for food, climate, nature, natural resources, and ethically sound food farming and land management. Investment in our own food supply chain, infrastructure and the next generation will be absolutely key in ensuring the UK can continue to feed itself in an increasingly volatile political landscape.”