FIrst day of Balmoral Show: ‘If we do not supply food to England then Brazil will’ says Poots
If we don’t produce the food: Brazil will!
That was the very direct message delivered by Northern Ireland’s farm minister Edwin Poots as he took in the sights and sounds of Day One at Balmoral Show 2021.
This year’s event takes place against the backdrop of a growing clamour for farming in Northern Ireland to actively address the challenge of climate change and to make environmental sustainability an absolute priority for the industry moving forward.
While acknowledging that emissions local from agriculture have increased since 1990, Poots confirmed that food production levels had increased significantly during the same period.
He added: “Farmers in Northern Ireland can feed 10m people. We are an export orientated industry with GB our main market.
“Consumption in the UK is heavily dependent on the food produced here in Northern Ireland and this needs to be recognised.
“But massive change will be required within the farming and food sectors. Making this happen will require investment by the industry itself and courtesy of the public purse.
“If we are simply to reduce food production levels here, people in England will still need to eat.
“Such a scenario will lead to an increase in food imports from like Brazil, an approach that will actually increase the carbon footprint of the food produced in the UK.”
According to the farm minister, local farmers can reduce the carbon footprint of the food they produce.
He said: “We know how to achieve this objective. It’s now a question of investing in the production systems and new technologies that will make this happen.”
Commenting specifically on the significance of Balmoral Show and the role of the various local farming shows in providing a shop window for farming and food.
Mr Poots said: “We have been working closely with the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society and the local show associations to deliver support.
“Obviously Balmoral is a showcase for Northern Ireland. I want to ensure that the Society remains viable.
“If it can be demonstrated that Covid has had a major impact on the activities of the organisation, then a request for specific support will be considered.
“This approach has already been taken with those other agri food bodies that have been impacted by Covid.
“And the same principle holds, where the local shows are concerned.”
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