During that summer devastating heath and forest fires broke out in parts of Southern England, including 50,000 trees destroyed at Hurn Forest in Dorset. £500 million worth of crops failed, and food prices subsequently increased by 12%.
Just days after Denis Howell was appointed ‘Minister for Drought’, severe thunderstorms brought rain. September and October were exceptionally wet, bringing the great drought to an end.
Perhaps Boris should appoint a 2022 ‘Minister for Drought’, but please not until all the crops are in the barns!
Minette Batters’ article in The Mail on Sunday raised the issue of impending global food shortages, as she quoted David Beasley from the United Nations Food Programme, who warns of “a global famine that should be taken as seriously as sending tanks to Ukraine”.
She points out that most were unaware of the critical role Ukraine plays in feeding the world, until Russia invaded in February. Also, the changing weather patterns, as we face severe drought across Europe and beyond, effecting world food production, and soaring food prices.
The NFU President is right to ask what governments have done in preparation for long droughts, and increasingly heavy rain we have experienced.
Following the drought of 1976 there were plans to create new reservoirs, and even talk of piping water from Wales to the South of England. Now as we face a similar drought, will these plans be dusted off and acted on?
Will re-wilding, planting forests, solar panels and houses across fertile land be scrapped and farmers told: “Your Country Needs You - Produce Food”?
Food security should be taken as seriously as energy security. The President questions why food producing farmers are considered to be just an unfortunate by-product of delivering for the environment.
Successive Governments have failed to take seriously the pressing problem of feeding the nation. So now it is time to take the bull by the horns and ensure the next Prime Minister will commit to at least 60 per cent self-sufficiency.
British farming supports our largest manufacturing sector. The food and drink’s industry is bigger than cars and aerospace put together; worth £120billion to the British economy each year, and employs four million people.
Mrs Batters asks which of the two candidates will be the rural champion, and priorities the future of British food? I think that she should look in a mirror and ask herself what she has done to get the message through to the Prime Minister and his ministers.
As the spokesman for British agriculture, she has done nothing but aggressively criticise Boris. Her words have regularly fallen on deaf ears because her communication skills are negative, therefore ineffective. Prime Ministers and ministers will listen and act, but it depends on the messenger.