Calls for summit as Ukraine war triggers UK food worries

Ukraine produces a third of the world’s wheat exports and other fundamental aspects of food production
Ukraine produces a third of the world’s wheat exports and other fundamental aspects of food production

Welsh politicians have called for a food and farming summit to agree a strategy to build food resilience as the Ukraine crisis triggers supply worries.

Questioning the First Minister today, Leader of the Welsh Conservatives Andrew RT Davies said that Russia's invasion of Ukraine was "endangering Wales’ food security."

Ukraine produces a third of the world’s wheat exports, with the current conflict being waged there triggering wider concern over the fragility of food supply chains in the UK.

Fertiliser and numerous other fundamental aspects of food production are also under threat as a result of the war.

Mr Davies said in the Senedd on Wednesday (9 March) that there would be knock-on consequences for the abilities of British farmers to grow food.

There would also be price increases for consumers as wheat prices increase by a third, Mr Davies warned.

He urged Welsh government to convene a food summit “of farmers, processors, and retailers so they can inform the policy development work."

First Minister Mark Drakeford said he would instruct the Rural Affairs Minister to discuss such a summit with industry leaders following a UK inter-ministerial meeting where they will ask for food security to be on the agenda.

Mr Davies, who is also a farmer by trade, also quizzed Mr Drakeford if the forthcoming Agriculture Bill – the first of its kind in 75 years – would be significantly changed in light of the conflict.

The First Minister responded: “The agriculture bill will, of course, support the production of food by Welsh farmers, and the changing nature of the marketplace, the Member is right, needs to be taken into account in that”.

Commenting afterwards, Mr Davies said: “The barbaric Russian campaign against a sovereign and democratic Ukraine extends far beyond that country.

“One of these is certainly food security because it is not just the crops of the bread basket of Europe that will be lost, but vital by-products like fertiliser that I know, as a farmer, is an essential part to food production."

He added: “That’s why industry leaders from food retailers and processors to farming unions must assemble urgently in a landmark food summit to build resilience into our food supply chains.

“With the agriculture bill coming up, now is the time to respond to the conflict in Ukraine and deliver a strong future for Welsh food security with a long-term vision of self-sufficiency.”