AIC: UK agri-food sector needs to strengthen its resilience to global shocks

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/iiievgeniy
© GettyImages/iiievgeniy

Related tags AIC phytosanitary GMOs

UK feed industry representatives, the AIC, attending the Farm to Fork summit organized by the UK government, pressed home the need to improve regulatory decision-making processes to strengthen productivity and competitiveness - specifically, on the registration of new crop protection products, approval of regulated products such as feed additives and GMOs, and around the issuing of phytosanitary certificates.

AIC CEO, Robert Sheasby, was part of a group of food, farming, retailing, and processing organizations attending that event, which was hosted by UK PM, Rishi Sunak, at 10 Downing Street.

The meeting addressed the importance of food production for domestic food security but also international trade.

The AIC executive stressed how critical further development of the local agri-food supply chain is, and that a greater focus on innovation and research, in this regard, is called for. “We need to strengthen our resilience to global shocks of the kind we've seen in recent years, and a big part of that is finding ways to lift domestic productivity.”

A clear land use strategy from the government would give industry the confidence to invest and meet the dual targets of sustainability and food security as businesses work towards a Net-Zero economy, added the Sheasby.

He also raised the value of quality farm advice, saying over 5,000 farm advisers have 44,000 conversations a week on farm in support of productivity and sustainability goals.

No chlorine-washed chicken and no hormone-treated beef

Meanwhile, in an open letter to UK farmers on trade, ahead of the Farm to Fork summit​, Sunak said UK trade deals would always consider the full effects and opportunities of such agreements on the domestic agricultural sector.

He was emphatic about protecting UK food standards. “Without exception, we will continue to protect food standards in the UK under all existing and future free-trade agreements. There will be no chlorine-washed chicken and no hormone-treated beef on the UK market. Not now, not ever.”

And he said the government would strive to uphold UK production standards. “We will seek to advance international co-operation on animal welfare and to promote high welfare standards. Production methods such as sow stalls and battery cages are not permitted in the UK. We will safeguard our ability to maintain high environmental, animal welfare and food standards in new trade agreements.”

The prime minister also said that the policymakers will ensure UK farmers and producers can access new markets by removing barriers outside of free-trade agreements.

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