BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 3 January 2008, 07:44 GMT
UK 'must enhance food production'
Mr Kendall said livestock farmers must be paid sustainable prices
The government must take action to help British farmers become as productive as possible, the president of the National Farmers' Union (NFU) has said.

Peter Kendall said practical steps were needed due to increasingly insecure food supplies and volatile prices.

He said productivity and environmental protection needed coherent policy, technology and investment.

Mr Kendall made the comments at the Oxford Farming Conference, one of the biggest events of the farming year.

'Solutions not problems'

During his speech at the conference, which marked the NFU's centenary year, Mr Kendall said: "Rising world demand, climate change and energy security have combined to make agriculture a strategically important industry once again.

"A sector that offers society solutions, not problems and to hear our politicians acknowledge that would be a great start to our centenary year."

He added: "This is emphatically not a plea for government assistance or subsidy; just a government statement that farming matters - to coin a phrase - would be a good start."

Mr Kendall said that in order for the livestock industry to match the economic improvement seen by the dairy farming industry, retailers and meat processors should pay livestock farmers sustainable prices.

Disastrous year

He said he was struck by the difference in the approach to agriculture between the UK and other European countries, pointing out that the nation's self-sufficiency in indigenous goods has fallen by 15% in the last 10 years.

A Cabinet Office report looking at food policy is expected to say the working practices that make food supply in Britain so effective can also make it vulnerable to disruption.

Mr Kendall's comments come as farmers recover from one of the worst years in recent memory.

During 2007, tens of millions of pounds were lost in the wake of a succession of animal diseases.

Snapshot of farming in the UK
01 Oct 07 |  Magazine
Supermarkets to fight dairy claim
20 Sep 07 |  Business

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific