Moral duty to grasp food and farming agenda

There is a moral duty to take control of the agenda at a crucial time for the UK’s food and agricultural policy according to the NFU’s Head of Food and Farming  who is among the keynote speakers at this year’ s N8 AgriFood International Conference 2019.

Phil Hambling, who previously worked for Defra, was senior agriculture manager at Sainsbury’s and food policy manager at the British Meat Processors’ Association, said: “We are in a critical time of food and agricultural policy when full accountability for these areas is about to land back into the lap of Government. 

“We must create and drive a shared and long term vision for food and agriculture and make sure that our ambitions on trade, standards, environment and social policy all join up. Moments like the N8 Agrifood conference give us a great opportunity to navigate this vital, complex and multi-disciplinary area.”

Mr Hambling, pictured left, added: “We have a moral imperative to consider our role in global food production as well as our global impact. Here at home, our agriculture is some of the most efficient in the world but we produce only 60 per cent of our own food.

 “The NFU has set out a vision for productive agriculture to attain Net Zero climate impact by 2040 but we must not achieve this through exporting our own production to other countries in the world that do not have the same sustainability ambitions we do. Moreover, we must hold onto our leadership in food affordability, safety and ethical standards in order to retain the food values that the union flag represents to customers today.”

Mr Hambling will be joined by Cathryn Higgs, Head of Food Policy at Co-op, who will be sharing an overview of Co-op’s Future of Food 2030 plan and focusing on what this means for growers and producers in developing countries.

Ms Higgs, pictured right, said: “Conferences like this are critical to bring together the actors from across the food system, that have a critical part to play in driving the change required for us to make a difference and avoid the worst effects of climate change on the planet and the people and animals that depend on it.

 “The environmental consequences of climate change are becoming well known, but what is less understood is the impact on the most vulnerable in society and what this means for human rights across the globe.”

N8 AgriFood aims to influence change upon the future of the food system through a unique collaborative approach encouraging contribution beyond academia to include all those involved from food production, its supply and consumption.

This conference, attracting experts from around the world will result in an unprecedented exchange of ideas, the forging of new partnerships, as well as showcasing and celebrating innovation across the agri-food sector.

The two-day conference features 11 sessions with speakers from Defra, Nestle UK, Oxfam, Natural England, the Fairtrade Foundation, Which?, CafeDirect, Sustainable Food Cities, Cranfield Institute; Scottish Agronomy, Akha Ama Coffee, Lettus Grow, Food Foundation, Food Domain, Leeds City Council, Future Food Solutions, APS Group, Applied Group/OPTIfarm and Wrap Global.

Also speaking at the conference is Jonathan Brooks, Head of AgriFood Trade and Markets Division, at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) who will call for more coherent polices to help feed the world and protect the planet.

He said: “This needs to be tackled with a better mutual understanding across disciplines, which is a first step towards ensuring that food and agriculture policies are able to address society’s needs and expectations in the 21st century.”

Professor Katherine Denby, N8 AgriFood’s Academic Director, said: “N8 AgriFood is a unique programme of eight universities working collaboratively and we are looking forward celebrate what we have collectively achieved and with other external stakeholders at the conference, help to shape how we now move forward to continue to find solutions for a sustainable food system.”