AN MP is calling on the Government to support farmers in food production against rising costs.

This week Penrith and The Border MP, Dr Neil Hudson welcomed the ambitious new food strategy aimed at boosting home-grown production, creating rural jobs and investing in innovative new technologies.

However, the MP, in the House of Commons, asked for reassurance that producers would be supported through the challenges of rising fuel, animal feed and fertiliser costs. In addition, Dr Hudson highlighted the pressures facing the sector with the closure of one of the UK’s fertiliser and CO2 plants.

Dr Neil Hudson said afterwards: “Put simply, food is pivotal to life. With rising farming costs and Russia’s horrific invasion of Ukraine, more of society is appreciating that we need a prosperous and resilient agri-food sector.

“The work Cumbrian and UK farmers are doing to produce high quality food during unprecedented cost increases is amazing; and all the while acting as nature positive custodians for our precious environment.

“I am hearted by George Eustice’s response with regards to spiralling fertiliser costs. I have his assurance that he and his department are monitoring the situation closely as it develops.”

Dr Hudson praised the Government for taking food security seriously in the unpredictable world – something he has called for repeatedly in Parliament and in conversations with Ministers and in his role as member of the EFRA Select Committee. Plans include strengthening the resilience of our supply chain and boosting domestic production to help protect against future economic shocks and crises.

George Eustice replied: “My hon. Friend raises some important points. We are watching the situation closely on fertiliser supply. Our current assessment is that production at the Billingham plant, which has the lion’s share of UK production, is continuing.

“We understand that it has had strong orders during the course of the year and farmers are managing to source their fertiliser by that route. We are also successfully continuing to import fertiliser from countries such as Norway.

“However, we monitor that closely because it is important that we ensure that farmers can get access to fertiliser particularly for next year’s winter wheat crop.”

The plans outlined pledge £270 million towards farming programmes.

However the Food Strategy has come under furious criticism from farm leaders.

West Cumbrian beef and sheep farmer and National Farmers Union (NFU) Cumbrian Council delegate, Alistair Mackintosh said the Food Strategy was ‘high on vision and low on strategy’.

“There is no clear vision how farmers interact with this food strategy,” said Mr Mackintosh, vice-chair of Red Tractor. “We want to be eating more British and more local food, but how?” he added.

However,Copeland MP, Trudy Harrison said: “The Food Strategy is good news for farmers, food producers and consumers here in Copeland.

“From spending on innovation, to releasing additional visas for seasonal workers and creating career pathways in the sector, the announcements today will provide a real boost.

“It is the Conservatives that will always champion British food and drink, and enable the sector to reap the benefits of the opportunities that lie ahead.”

Mrs Harrison recently met with a group of farmers from the Bassenthwaite and Keswick area to discuss the issues they are currently facing - including food security - and a series of follow-up meetings are planned.

Tenant Farmers Association chief, George Dunn said: “Farm businesses need to be assured of access to the necessary liquidity to get crops to harvest and livestock to market. They also need the confidence to know that the supply chain will provide an adequate return for the financial investment now required. This, in turn will provide the basis for the long-term resilience we need for the elements of the food strategy to be delivered.”