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Farming Union maps out key asks amid growing food security concerns


By David Porter

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With the news today of a Scottish Government response to growing worries over food supply and security, NFU Scotland is calling on the UK Government, Scottish Government, processors, retailers and the banking sector to take urgent action to address the immediate risks to domestic food production in the interests of consumers and producers.

The horrific humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and the suffering being endured has heightened food security concerns at home.

NFU Scotland has sent messages of support to fellow Ukrainian farmers and details of the Government’s ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme are being circulated across the NFU Scotland network in response to requests from members looking to provide homes for those fleeing the conflict.

While the focus remains supporting Ukraine, its importance to global agriculture means challenging economic times. Scotland’s farmers and crofters want to address the growing concerns around future food security at home.

Inflationary pressures and market volatility have been building and have reached exceptional levels. The Union believes that maintaining stability so that businesses maintain their capacity to produce food must be a priority for governments and the supply chain.

Red diesel prices are being tracked
Red diesel prices are being tracked

As a matter of urgency in the short term, NFU Scotland asks the following-

For the UK Government to-

Reduce the duty on red diesel to zero to address the rapid increase in fuel prices for critical agricultural operations.

Address rapidly rising energy costs via a price cap on wholesale gas at affordable levels, not least to ensure the continuity of domestic fertiliser production.

Consider all immigration policy options to encourage seasonal and permanent staff to ensure that the needs of the entire food supply chain are met over the short to medium term.

For the Scottish Government to-

Roll out Track 1 of the National Test Programme with utmost urgency. Introducing soil testing and nutrient management planning will enable all farmers and crofters to be more input (nutrient) efficient.

Commit greater funding to the Sustainable Agricultural Capital Grant Scheme (SACGS) to assist farmers to use resources more efficiently

Temporarily suspend the Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs) component of the 2022 Greening requirements to bring additional arable land back into productive use – with a focus on EFA fallow land being used for nitrogen-fixing protein crops.

Implement a rapid (and continuous) food production impact assessment of all existing and new legislation and policy affecting agricultural land use and practice, by implementing a food security impact check to avoid undermining the potential for food production and/or increasing costs of food production.

Food Security Impact Assessments are made an immediate requirement of any application for largescale forestry expansion on productive agricultural land. In the current food security crisis, all productive land should be prioritised for food production rather than carbon offsetting by non-agricultural businesses.

For Processors and Retailers to-

Introduce a ‘cost tracker’ element to pricing Scottish and/or British produce that recognises the rapid price inflation on key inputs at farm level.

Commit to buying Scottish and/or British produce wherever possible to safeguard continuity of domestic food production.

For Banks to-

Lend with agility to provide farm businesses with flexible repayments and terms to ensure cash flow is maintained in the face of extreme volatility.

Resources tracking

Using industry sources NFU Scotland is tracking the price of four key agricultural inputs – ammonium nitrate fertiliser; red diesel; feed wheat and feed barley.

Current quotes for ammonium nitrate fertiliser (subject to availability) are in excess of £900 per tonne.

In March 2021, the average price was £271 per tonne.

On red diesel, farmers can order supplies for delivery but many will only have the price confirmed at time of delivery. Current average price for March 2022 delivery is 137p per litre. The average price in March 2021 was 60p per litre.

Feed barley and feed wheat are a key component of pig, poultry and some ruminant diets.

The average feed barley price ex-farm for March 2022 is £280 per tonne.

The equivalent price in March 2021 was £162 per tonne.

The average feed wheat price ex-farm for 14 March 2022 was quoted at £295 per tonne.

The equivalent price in March 2021 was £203 per tonne.


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