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Immediate food supplies in secure position, taskforce finds

There are fears of a global food crisis resulting from the ongoing war in Ukraine (Niall Carson/PA)
There are fears of a global food crisis resulting from the ongoing war in Ukraine (Niall Carson/PA)

Scotland’s food supplies are in a secure position despite fears of a global food crisis, according to a report.

Findings from the Food Security and Supply Taskforce were released on Thursday amid warnings over disruption to the supply chain resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The taskforce – set up to respond to potential food security and supply disruption – said that while the food supply chain is facing its greatest strain in “many years”, immediate supplies of food and animal feed in Scotland are still stable.

However, it also issued a number of recommendations to the Scottish Government in order to mitigate any problems in the future.

The group’s co-chair, Scotland Food and Drink chief executive James Withers, said such actions were necessary as food security looks set to be a “dominant global theme over the next decade”.

Recommendations include setting up a dedicated Food Security Unit within the Scottish Government, improving cash flow for individual businesses and farmers, and creating a digital gateway to highlight support available to businesses in the food and drink sector.

Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon, who co-chairs the taskforce with Mr Withers, said climate change and an increasing understanding of the global nature of food supply has meant food security is being given greater domestic priority.

Ms Gougeon said: “The war in Ukraine has sent shockwaves through the global food system and the impacts are being felt by producers and consumers in Scotland.

“This has compounded the challenging operating environment caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the hard Brexit imposed on Scotland by the UK Government, which has inflicted significant and lasting damage on our world class food and drink industries, rural and coastal communities.

“We have already taken steps to respond to the situation, including improving business cash flow via our payments strategy for 2022, to ensure farmers and crofters are paid as early as possible.

“The rapid establishment of our taskforce – which is the first within the UK – and the creation of new food security structures should offer assurances that government and industry will be in a position to react as quickly as possible to any future shocks.”

Mr Withers said: “This report marks a turning point in how we respond to growing food security pressures in this country.

“New structures, embedded into government, working in close collaboration with industry will make food security central to our thinking in future.

“The new Food Security Unit will be a mechanism to monitor risks, identify ways to increase resilience in food production and supply, and respond rapidly to emerging issues.”

He added: “Food security is going to be a dominant global theme over the next decade. The horrors unfolding in Ukraine have brought it into stark focus, but the climate emergency means it is an issue here to stay.

“The outcome of this short-life work will ensure, as a nation, we can strengthen food security and our own supply chains whilst also looking at how we can support those beyond our shores.”