UFU attend Farm to Fork summit at 10 Downing Street

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Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) deputy president, John McLenaghan, attended the second Farm to Fork summit at 10 Downing Street on Tuesday (14 May), alongside leaders from the United Kingdom (UK) agri-food industry.

Critical discussions took place with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak MP, announcing the UK Food Security Index and long-term strategic plans.

UFU deputy president John McLenaghan said: “The second Farm to Fork summit provided the opportunity to speak directly to government and represent the views of NI farming families.

“It is positive to see that food security and self-sufficiency are on the political agenda for the Prime Minister, where he reiterated that food security is national security and revealed the UK Food Security Index publication, setting out key data and trends.

UFU deputy president John McLenaghan. (Pic: McAuley Multimedia)UFU deputy president John McLenaghan. (Pic: McAuley Multimedia)
UFU deputy president John McLenaghan. (Pic: McAuley Multimedia)

“At the summit, the Prime Minister also pledged investment support packages for the industry. The UFU welcome this commitment, however, it remains unclear whether this will be implemented in NI.”

The establishment of the Food Security Index will allow the UK government and agriculture sector to prepare for future barriers to sustainable and profitable food production.

“The UFU has constantly emphasised the need to support local food production and food security must be a top priority for any government. Investing in our farming and growing sector is essential for economic and environmental delivery and with the correct policy in place, we can improve NI’s self-sufficiency, benefiting our farmers, consumers and the economy whilst working hand in hand with nature. Farmers are extremely vulnerable to elements that are out of their control such as the extreme weather events over the past year, emphasing that food security need to be higher up the political agenda,” added the UFU deputy president.

Mr McLenaghan attended a breakout session on unlocking the economic potential of food and farming.

“During this meeting I emphasised that we have too many contradictory policies - how can we have a policy which incentivises taking land out of food production at the same time as trying to grow output?”

Other topics of discussion during this meeting included planning and labour.

“The Farm to Fork summit was a positive step for farmers to engage directly with the Prime Minister and other agri-industry leaders such as the UK Minister of State for Northern Ireland, helping to ensure food security does not become a lesser matter for politicians in the future and reinforcing that the inclusion of growth targets in NI would give farmers the much-needed confidence to invest,” added Mr McLenaghan.