The Farming Social Hub - a voice for the farming community

Soaring food prices prompt call for action

The war with Ukraine is having a monumental impact on lives of Ukrainians everywhere and, here at the Farming Social Hub, our heart goes out to them. At the same time, it is necessary to report on the impact the war is having on our own country, in particular the farming community.

With the huge agricultural operations of Ukraine and Russia so entangled with our own food production, farmers are calling out for the UK government to take urgent action to prevent food shortages in this country in the coming months.

The war in Ukraine is threatening grain and oilseeds harvest, energy costs and the production of fertiliser. There is also the additional pressure on seasonal labour as Ukrainians make up 60 per cent of the seasonal labour that takes up the visas to work on the farms and food processing lines since Britain left the EU.

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has called on the government to issue 10,000 additional visas for seasonal workers and for urgent action to be taken to prioritise food production. It has also called for it to be made easier to use organic fertiliser and manure rather than those produced using fossil fuels.

The UK does not import wheat directly from Ukraine but the country does play a significant role in the production process and the war has forced prices upwards. The UK also imports 45 per cent of its oilseed rape, 80 per cent sunflower oil and a fifth of maize imports. This impacts both human and animal food production.

The impact of the war on gas prices is also having a huge impact. Fertiliser production relies on gas, as does the slaughter of animals and food packaging.

Interviewed for The Guardian, Minette Batters, President of the NFU said: ‘The war has focused attention on the importance and fragility of food security, both at home and abroad.

‘There are some clear short and long-term actions that government can take to maintain confidence and stability across the UK’s food producing businesses,’ she said. ‘We have shared these with government and we want to stress that we stand ready to take these forward together, in order to navigate the extreme volatility we see today and expect to grow in the coming months.’

Pic credit: Photo by Gérôme Bruneau on Unsplash