Chris Matheson MP has spoken out about the disastrous impact of the war in Ukraine on British farming, calling on the government to take urgent action to help the sector.
Chris led the debate on the war’s impact on British agriculture and food production on Wednesday morning after speaking to Cheshire farmers who have seen their businesses take huge financial hits in recent months.
He said: “It was an honour to be able to take the plight of British farmers directly to the government. From rocketing energy costs and increased demand on fertiliser to a catastrophic fall in labour to keep their businesses running, farmers are facing difficulties on an entirely new scale. Farming is a great British tradition of which we are all rightly proud and these people keep us fed through the year. Just as they help us, we must help them.”
The debate shone light on some of the major pressures facing the sector, including the fact that over 60% of seasonal workers last year came from Ukraine. MPs also raised concerns that prices are rising but farmers and food producers are seeing profits fall, and that Brexit has led to supply issues in other areas, such as veterinary medicine being stuck in Northern Ireland.
Responding to the issues raised, Farming, Fisheries and Food Minister Victoria Prentis MP concluded: “There is a great deal more work that the world needs to do and I reassure the House that as a Government we are determined to play our part in that work globally. We are aware of the pressures caused by the knock-on effects of this war. We continue to work in partnership with farmers and food producers to ensure that the UK is well equipped to respond to the global forces that continue to drive the supply and price issues that we are facing.”
Chris added: “I am pleased that the government has taken on board the messages that we put forward from those in this sector, and of course the National Farmers Union, who have been hugely helpful. There is a positive story about the resilience and the great work being done every day in farming and food production. But without urgent action, their future is in doubt, and so too is the future of the British economy. Our farmers play a huge part in the global food chain, and they deserve our support.”
To read the debate in full, War in Ukraine: UK Farming and Food Production, please visit: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2022-07-20/debates/F877F2C4-50B4-487D-9CCB-532334C2401E/details