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The European Union is considering setting aside "set aside" - the fields which farmers don't grow crops on, but which they still get paid for - because basic foodstuffs like wheat and barley are getting scarcer and rocketing in price. Barbara Panvel reports on why it makes sense to encourage more local produce.

Food growing often isn’t considered as a career, but it’s the most important human activity - without a secure supply of food we die.

Middlemen seek the highest profits by moving production to low-wage countries but in June the Commercial Farmers' Group update on food security rightly called for homegrown food production to rise to about 80%.

It showed that while global food stocks are falling and production is being reduced by climate change, drought in many countries and the growing of bio-fuels, demand is rising in countries like India and China.

CFG recognised that major UK retailers offer great value to their customers but that producers should be given a fair reward. It urged large retailers to “stop hiding behind their packers and processors and consider the effects of their dominance on their primary producers”.

Fair Deal Awards encourage this - now promoted locally by Localise West Midlands to recognise and celebrate buyers who give a fair deal to food producers. In Hall Green later on, dairy farmer Andrew Hemming [and one of his cows] will be presenting Waitrose with their award.

There is a deeper question about food security however: lack of food soon kills, but lack of wholesome food leads to a lingering state of lowered health and spirits, predisposing people to life-shortening disease.

The human body is not thriving on pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, meat transmitted anti-biotics - and rising demands are being made on the National Health Service.

But how can a wholesome food supply be ensured, here and in other countries?

Part of the answer must lie in localising food supply - and ensuring that those who produce it are fairly rewarded.

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