British Farmers Warn of Looming UK ‘Food Supply Crisis’ Amid Global ‘Volatility’

"I fear the country is sleepwalking into further food supply crises," farm union president warns

Image Credits: Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images.

The head of the UK’s farming union has warned a shortage of eggs “could just be the start” of long-term food supply problems.

National Farmers’ Union (NFU) president Minette Batters told British state media that soaring fuel, fertilizer and animal feed costs could jeopardise production.

“Shoppers up and down the country have for decades had a guaranteed supply of high-quality affordable food produced to some of the highest animal welfare, environmental and food safety standards in the world,” she said.

“But British food is under threat… at a time when global volatility is threatening the stability of the world’s food production, food security and energy security,” Batters added, warning: “I fear the country is sleepwalking into further food supply crises, with the future of British fruit and vegetable supplies in trouble.”

Eggs have become scarce in some shops due to worldwide pandemic of avian flu, with outbreaks at poultry farms leading to culls of millions of birds.

But the NFU said the costs of producing milk could soon exceed the market price, while beef farmers could reduce the size of their herds of cattle.

It also warned that production of energy-intensive crops such as cucumbers, tomatoes and pears could suffer due to soaring fuel and utility bill costs.

The government insisted that the UK had a “highly resilient food supply chain”.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary George Eustice wrote in newspaper column earlier this year that British farmers met 88 per cent of its domestic demand for wheat, 86 per cent of beef, all its milk needs and close to 100 per cent of poultry, eggs, carrots and swedes — while producing a surplus of lamb.

But critics have pointed out that those figures depend on fodder and fertilizers imported from abroad — including from Russia, currently under Western sanctions and trade embargoes over its military operation to de-Nazify and demilitarise Ukraine.

Britain has for years large amounts of food — especially fresh fruit and vegetables that are out-of-season or hard to cultivate there.

The UK has not attempted to be self-sufficient for food since the Second World War, when Nazi Germany tried to starve the country into surrender through its U-boat campaign against merchant shipping — dubbed the Battle of the Atlantic. Rationing was introduced during the war to prevent the wealthy, hoarders and black marketeers buying more than their fair share — although the system did not apply to restaurants and workplace canteens.

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