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Recent years have seen many problems appearing that have negatively impacted food production, the latest being the terrible situation in the Ukraine. Food prices are likely to increase significantly, especially as Russia and Ukraine are among the world’s main suppliers of wheat. The conflict is expected to reduce exports meaning soaring costs for farms and food processors throughout the UK.
The price of gas needed to heat greenhouses and to produce fertiliser has also soared, prompting the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) to request urgent action. The NFU has asked the government for help to enable UK farmers to produce enough food. There is a risk of supermarkets and other food outlets not being able to meet customer demand. The NFU said: “The government must act now, with a clear signal that food security is a priority for the nation,”
There isn’t a quick end in sight for all the disruption to supply chains, food production, availability and affordability. There are worries that food production problems could last for years to come. The boss of one of the largest international fertiliser companies, Yara International warned of a shock to the global supply and cost of food. Escalating fuel prices will also mean people pay more in shops and restaurants.
Around 80% of the world’s sunflower oil and 20% of corn are produced in Russia and the Ukraine say the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Ukrainian workers account for 60% of the UK’s seasonal workers, their essential roles include planting, picking and grading produce. The NFU is urging the government to grant an additional 10,000 visas under the Seasonal Workers Scheme. The amount at present is 30,000. Some farmers are trying to be flexible by adjusting the way they do things to avoid shortages of wheat and barley.
Mark Spencer, commons Leader said the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) was “across the threats that we face”. He added: “There is no prospect of food shortages at any point in the future, and Defra are working with Treasury to try and make sure that that continues to be the case.”
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