Ministers told to play ‘Blind Date’ 
and boost farming

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Ministers have been told to play the role of matchmaker Cilla Black and take inspiration from Blind Date to improve farming.

Partners from around the world need to be found for UK researchers to develop technologies and farming techniques, a senior Conservative MP urged.

Anne McIntosh, chairwoman of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee (Efra), also warned “flatulence from animals” needs to be reduced wherever possible, as she pressed for the coalition to produce a plan showing how to cut emissions from agriculture.

Barriers limiting the export of leftover pig meat to China and other emerging markets also need to be removed, the MP for Thirsk and Malton added.

Miss McIntosh spoke as she introduced the Efra committee’s food security report to the Commons, which warns the UK’s self-sufficiency in food has steadily declined over the past 20 years.

Addressing threats to food production including extreme weather, Miss McIntosh told the Commons that supermarkets must shorten supply chains.

She said: “Agriculture currently accounts for nine per cent of all greenhouse gas emission, of which livestock production accounts for a staggering 49 per cent of farm-related emissions.”

She applauded work being trialled by supermarkets to encourage high sugar grasses that will reduce emissions.

“But we do urge the Government to act, if you like, as a Cilla Black to actually unite and bring to the marketplace and go out and find partners – a sort of Blind Date... urging research institutes in this country to find research institutes both in this country, across Europe and internationally to make sure that farmers will benefit.”