Don’t leave food security and farming at mercy of Brexit and virus – The Yorkshire Post says

THERE is now unanimity at Westminster over the need for an independent inquiry into Covid-19 after Boris Johnson acceded to calls by Sir Ed Davey, the Lib Dem interim leader, this month.

Graeme Bandeira's 'Be Kind' cartoon at the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Yet, while its timing is still open to debate as the pandemic unfolds and Europe begins to brace itself for a ‘second wave’ of cases, lessons can be learned in the interim.

Each Whitehall ministry, quango, NHS trust and local authority needs to be reviewing and refining its work now – and the best-led organisations will already be doing so without waiting to be pre-empted by an inquiry.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

An example is food security and today’s call by the Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee for Defra to appoint a dedicated minister whose primary task is maintaining crucial supplies rather than becoming sidetracked by other policy pressures.

Panic buying gripped the country at the start of the Covid-19 lockdown.

Notwithstanding the farming and food industry’s collective effort to keep the shelves stocked when Britain was in the grip of ‘panic buying’, they now have a second challenge – Brexit – as Britain prepares to leave the European Union on December 31.

But it is clear, judging by the underlying tone of this Parliamentary report, that there’s insufficient confidence in Defra’s current leadership on issues ranging from the availability of sufficient labour to help farmers with the annual harvest to uncertainty governing trade future arrangements with the EU and no grasp of the consequences of well-intended initiatives like the voucher scheme for free school meals.

As such, there’s no reason – or excuse – for such select committee reports being ignored by Environment Secretary George Eustice or others. Operating on a cross-party basis, they command authority and should be used as the basis for more immediate policy improvements before a more reflective and wide-ranging inquiry can be held.

Editor’s note: first and foremost - and rarely have I written down these words with more sincerity - I hope this finds you well.

George Eustice is the Environment Secretary.

Almost certainly you are here because you value the quality and the integrity of the journalism produced by The Yorkshire Post’s journalists - almost all of which live alongside you in Yorkshire, spending the wages they earn with Yorkshire businesses - who last year took this title to the industry watchdog’s Most Trusted Newspaper in Britain accolade.

And that is why I must make an urgent request of you: as advertising revenue declines, your support becomes evermore crucial to the maintenance of the journalistic standards expected of The Yorkshire Post. If you can, safely, please buy a paper or take up a subscription. We want to continue to make you proud of Yorkshire’s National Newspaper but we are going to need your help.

Postal subscription copies can be ordered by calling 0330 4030066 or by emailing [email protected] Vouchers, to be exchanged at retail sales outlets - our newsagents need you, too - can be subscribed to by contacting subscriptions on 0330 1235950 or by visiting where you should select The Yorkshire Post from the list of titles available.

If you want to help right now, download our tablet app from the App / Play Stores. Every contribution you make helps to provide this county with the best regional journalism in the country.

Sincerely. Thank you.

James Mitchinson