'We must urgently plan to produce more food'

Anne-Marie Hamilton, from the farm at Hail Weston, talks about the importance of nurturing land to grow our own crops

Anne-Marie Hamilton, from the farm at Hail Weston, talks about the importance of nurturing land to grow our own crops - Credit: Anne-Marie Hamilton

Anne-Marie Hamilton talks about life on the farm in Hail Weston.

Hunts Post Farming Column by Anne-Marie Hamilton, of Wood Farm, Hail Weston

Hunts Post Farming Column by Anne-Marie Hamilton, of Wood Farm, Hail Weston - Credit: Archant

Do all politicians in this country suffer from ‘tin ear’? I am seriously beginning to wonder.

Despite constant warnings from across the board, there is still no acknowledgement that if the war in Ukraine continues for much longer, there will be a rapid world food shortage.

We must plan urgently to produce more food here. The days of cheap food are over. The government is panicking over insufficient electricity, but blithely ignoring that a serious food shortage would be far more dangerous.

To quote an old Byzantine proverb “He who has bread may have many troubles; He who lacks it has only one”!

We are not the only farming family who is worried about what crops to sow after this harvest. With no guidance from government, we will need to make tough business decisions about what we can afford to grow.

Most governments across the world have recognized the urgent necessity of food security planning, and several countries have already placed export bans on their home-grown cereals.

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In the UK, anticipated commodity shortages have already increased cereal prices significantly, but that is of little help to the grower as the cost of inputs has rocketed, too.

Last year, fertilizer cost around £300/ton. This year, as a significant amount of the gas needed to make it comes from Russia, the same fertilizer costs over £1000/ton. As gardeners will tell you, for maximum yields, you need fertilizer. You can go organic but will have insufficient yields to feed a nation the size of the UK.

Whilst we need to produce more electricity, there is a serious lack of proper planning about how to make the most effective use of our assets. It is ludicrous to take prime arable land out of production for the next 50 years, in order to cover the countryside in solar farms.

The land in this country is a finite resource. You can only use it once. Why not make it a compulsory planning requirement that solar panels must be installed on top of the massive roofs of the thousands of giant warehouses that have sprung up across the country over the last few years, as this land has already been lost for food production.

If we are to feed our people, we must retain and nurture our best land to grow food. After all, you cannot eat solar panels!