Watkins draws comparisons with energy. “We need to ask ourselves: where will our food come from in the future? We’ve got to have food security.”
Quite true. We don’t want to go to the larder and find that it’s empty, that’s for sure.
So, how about expanding English farming then?
It is only now becoming apparent just how terrible sodden 2012 has been for farmers, particularly those in the north-west and south-west. Wheat yields were at their lowest level since the 1980s, the potato crop at its lowest since 1976. The oilseed rape harvest and barley yields also suffered. Livestock farmers suffered too. The wet weather conditions sent the price of animal feed soaring as farmers were forced to keep their animals indoors.
England’s a fairly small place. So when one are gets shitty weather it’s not unlikely that all areas will get shitty weather. So if we were to rely upon English farming for all English food we’d find ourselves locked into something pro-cyclical. When food’s in short supply it’s in short supply everywhere in the country.
Which isn’t a great contribution to “food security”.
What we actually want is some counter-cyclical plan. One that doesn’t depend upon linked events. One, for example, that allows us to source food from outside the area that will all be affected by weather at the same time and in the same manner.
Concern is shifting to sheep farmers, who are losing as much as £29 for each lamb they sell, owing to the rising costs of feed, wet weather and increased competition from New Zealand farmers who can undercut them.
Ah, yes, that’s it. Buy food from farmers subject to different weather systems. That reduces reliance upon those who will, in a correlated manner, suffer from whatever plague, flood or hailstones affect any specific geographic area.
So, yes, let’s have food security. In the obvious and simple manner: through trade.