A few thoughts to provoke controversy, writes Roger Welberry.
To allow more solar panels on Grade 3 land; to allow more wind turbines on isolated areas; for more farmers to grow forage maize and other diverse crops for biofuel to feed digesters, and so taking more land out of food production, as they did with set-aside a few years ago.
Another factor has come into the scenario now that Russia has banned European food imports (worth a billion pounds) . A lot of European food, if it does not go east, will come west, depressing our prices even further.
I have already heard of a cheesemaker down south who has lost a £2million contract to supply Russia and a Scottish company that exported £17million worth of frozen mackerel to Russia has also lost out.
Who knows, Russia might decide to cut off gas supplies to Europe? Let’s get fracking now! That’s another controversial subject.
Saying all that, how do we keep prices of British food up to a sustainable level? Last year’s potato crop is still being moved out of stores at £10 a ton for stock feed and this year’s crop is abundant, with very low prices, low demand, low orders. Beef cattle has dropped 20 per cent, as has lamb. There is nearly a milk lake in Europe and quotas finish soon. There will be a free for all and prices will drop further.
So do we produce less food to get prices up by diversifying into non-food crops?