While the Government’s Agriculture Bill has set out commendable aims to improve the welfare of livestock and protect the countryside post-Brexit, John Procter, MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber and member of the European Parliament’s Environmental, Public Health and Food Safety Committee, has warned that the farming industry’s first priority should be self-sustainability.
Procter highlights the mammoth task that the farming industry is facing as an alternative framework to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is sought post-Brexit. Procter commented: “Bearing in mind that the UK hasn’t set its own food policy for 40 years, it is as if a new ministry will have to be created. There should be genuine concern about how the nation can realistically maintain the high environmental and food standards fostered under the CAP and simultaneously ensure its food chain is sufficient.”
Procter concurs with The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee’s concerns over how the UK must ensure foreign imports measure up to Britain’s rigorous rules for food production, animal welfare and the environment but is also urging the farming industry to think about how it can become more self-sufficient in the future.
He said: “In the light of anticipated agricultural worker shortages and import/export uncertainties, we may have to help farmers consider radical alternatives to food production such as hydroponic vertical farming in large warehouses. The advantages being that they only require a small workforce which can be boosted by specialist robot technology to aid efficiency and ensure reliability of supply.
“The UK is already a leader in this area with firms like the Jones Food Company establishing a revolutionary vertical indoor farm in Scunthorpe – an innovative space that is able to produce several fields’ worth of crops from one regular sized warehouse. Much more development work of this type is going to be needed if we can uphold the food supply chain under post-Brexit pressures.”