Charity Food

Just weeks ago, there was almost unanimous agreement that these things had been consigned to the history books and were a relic of the early 20th century.

Abi Kay

Abi took up the post of chief reporter at Farmers Guardian after a stint working for the NFU as part of its government affairs team. …Load More

Loading grain into holds of sea cargo vessel through an automatic line in seaport from silos of grain storage. Bunkering of dry cargo ship with grain

It has been easy, with our comfortably stocked fridges, to look at the 1910s or 1940s and be lulled into a false sense of security.

Some might even have thought, a little arrogantly, that we Westerners were just too progressive to go back to those dark days.

But with shells raining down on Kyiv, tanks rolling into Kharkiv and cargo ships due to load grain being hit by Russian missiles in the Black Sea, any illusions we may have harboured about living in a more civilised world than our predecessors have been shattered.

Looking back at the opinion pieces Farmers Guardian has run online and in print over the past few years, it is clear most people believed future threats to food security would be different to those faced by previous generations.

Cyber attacks, climate change and land use change have all ranked highly among our contributors’ concerns. And let’s be clear – not one of those threats has in any way dissipated.

But the events of the past two weeks have shown conventional warfare is still as effective as it ever was at stopping food from reaching plates, as the analysis of the conflict shows.

One farmer in Ukraine, Peter Thomson, even went so far as to claim Putin has invaded Europe’s bread basket in order to gain greater control over the world’s food markets.

Of course, we have no way of knowing whether that is true.

But even if it is not, his actions undoubtedly pose a risk to global food supplies.

It is shocking that Defra’s first ever Food Security Report, published in December last year, does not even mention the words conflict, war or attack – save for the cyber variety.

Even more so when you consider that the Russians amassed 110,000 troops with tanks and other heavy weaponry near the Ukraine border in the spring of 2021.

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