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Food Supply Chains

Volume 741: debated on Wednesday 29 November 2023

This Government want to ensure that farmers and food producers get a fair price for their products by tackling unfairness that exists in food supply chains. We are currently pursuing contractual reform in the dairy and pork sectors and we have a new review of the egg sector. This will ensure resilience and fair supply chains across the country.

My constituents in Edinburgh West, like so many others across the country, are finding it increasingly difficult to source affordable nutritious food. The situation has been made worse by flooding in Scotland and by international pressures such as the war in Ukraine, energy prices and Brexit. There are enterprises such as Lauriston Farm in my community that can provide good local food. What are the Government doing to support projects such as those and to offset the impact on our food producers of the recent flooding?

I recognise the points that the hon. Lady makes about the pressures on the food supply chain. The UK Government are closely monitoring the impact on the agricultural sector of the flooding caused by storms and we are working with the Environment Agency to resolve that. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs can provide financial assistance to the farming sector to cover uninsurable losses incurred as a result of exceptional flooding by activating the farming recovery fund. I would encourage the hon. Lady to contact the Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Robbie Moore), the excellent new water Minister at DEFRA, for more information.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. It is a pleasure to be here, although I have to say that there was not particularly stiff competition for the role from Scotland.

Inflation might be slowly coming down, but food inflation in Scotland still stands at more than 10%, forcing families to choose between being able to eat or heat their home, or, given the increasing levels of destitution, neither. Thousands of people in Scotland are turning to food banks not as a one-off last resort but as a means of getting by week after week. It is clear that both our Governments should be working together much better to tackle this, so what specific steps will the Minister take to work with the Scottish Government and the food industry to ensure that food prices do not continue to rise at unaffordable rates? Does he really believe that the autumn statement will give families any confidence that the Government understand how difficult it is for people in Scotland right now?

I welcome the hon. Member to his new position. I recognise the points he makes about stiff competition, but nonetheless I very much welcome him.

This Government are absolutely committed to tackling the rising prices that households are facing, which is why the Prime Minister has an absolute focus on reducing the levels of inflation, but the hon. Member is right to say that both Governments should be working together to alleviate pressures on household budgets. This Government have demonstrated that through the huge support that has been put in place to support households with energy prices, and through other measures to ensure that financial help is in place to support hard-pressed households.