UK wheat and pigmeat production is at threat of decline due to single-minded government policies and legislation, claims a leading industry chief.
The warning from Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC) chief executive David Caffall comes following research carried out by the body’s policy team.
Speaking at the Oxford Farming Conference, Mr Caffall said the research found that wheat production could fall to between 8 and 10million tonnes per year, from 15million tonnes, as a result of restrictions on pesticide use.
While, legislative demands on animal welfare and feed quality could result in the number of pigs falling to 2.8million from 4.4million.
“Our concern is that many regulations are drawn up on a single issue basis, taking no account of unintended consequences,” said Mr Caffall.
“In some instances, regulation appears to be driven purely by political whim, rather than any factual or scientific basis.”
UK farmers needed access to new technologies to reverse these declines in output, added Mr Caffall.
“What is clear is that the food and agriculture industries are complex and broad views need to be taken in policy development, especially at the European level. One has to question whether a ‘one size fits all’ approach can work across 28 member states.”
European farmers had the opportunity to increase production, but were restricted by policy, added Mr Caffall.
“However, we continue to wait for regulation to allow the new technologies to be introduced into the EU. The delays are now so long that global agribusinesses are turning their research and development focus away from Europe. Before long new technology is more likely to be on a plane to China, than being used for European benefit.”