Farmers for Action (FFA) is calling for the introduction of a carbon tax on food imports into Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

FFA coordinator, William Taylor, believes that if implemented, the approach can reduce the food miles associated with all food imports.

“It is also a principle that can be implemented in all countries as a direct response to the threat of climate change,” he told Agriland.

Carbon tax

The proposed tax is contained within FFA’s proposed Farm Welfare Bill.

The envisaged measure is aimed at mandating food companies to actively seek the produce they need within their home market initially (Northern Ireland).

If this does not prove successful, then it would be a case of sourcing the required produce from the nearest neighbouring country.

So, in the case of Northern Ireland, this approach would take in the Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland.

“The bottom line for food importers will be the requirement to source produce from the countries that are closest to them on a geographic basis,” Taylor said.

“If this principle is not followed, then a carbon tax would be levied, based on the food miles associated with the importation.”

According to Taylor, the taxes raised in this manner would be placed in a specific climate change fund.

These monies could then be used to support farming businesses as they transition to a ‘net carbon zero’ position by 2050.

Food miles

The UK government has recently signed free trade agreements (FTAs) with both Australia and New Zealand.

According to Taylor, these are examples of the current UK government breaking every common sense part of the Paris Climate Accord.

“It is clear this government and many corporate food retailers couldn’t care less about climate change; they couldn’t care less about farmers across these islands and couldn’t care less about Australian and New Zealand farmers. They only care about corporate profit,” Taylor continued.

“What will now happen is that the corporate food retailers and food wholesalers will play Australia and New Zealand food off against home produce and drive down prices in both regions.”

William Taylor believes that the UK should not be importing foods it is already self-sufficient in such as beef and lamb.

“The UK should not be importing the likes of beef from Argentina, Brazil, Australia, or even Europe,” he stated.

“However, during weeks when a temporary shortage is flagged up, then it’s a case of sourcing product from our nearest neighbour.

“If this process were to be replicated around the world with all food commodities, it would completely eliminate the supermarkets’ need to generate food miles purely for profit.”