NFU raises alarm on UK self-sufficiency in food

A new National Farmers’ Union (NFU) report predicts an “alarming” decline in the UK’s self-sufficiency in food, which it believes could have “serious implications for the British economy, food security and employment”.

The report, revealed today on the opening day of the NFU Conference in Birmingham, states that, at current rates, just 53% of the nation’s food needs will be met by produce from UK farms in the next 25 years.

The union explained that, with the population expected to boom over the coming decades, there will be around 13 million extra mouths in the UK by the time the country’s self-sufficiency in home-grown food is predicted to hit dwindling new lows. It has called for immediate political action to reverse the trend.

NFU president Meurig Raymond said: “Today’s report highlights the causes of the decline in self-sufficiency, including shifting and conflicting direction on European and UK farm policy; declining investment in publicly funded research and development; poorly crafted regulation, and weak bargaining power within the food chain. Our report focuses very clearly on what needs to be done to reverse this trend.

“The stark choice for the next government is whether to trust the nation’s food security to volatile world markets or to Back British Farming and reverse the worrying trend in food production. I know what I want to happen. I want to see a robust plan for increasing the productive potential of farming, stimulating investment and ensuring that the drive to increase British food production is at the heart of every government department.”

The NFU believes that the general public is becoming more aware of the importance of British food and farming, and revealed figures from a YouGov survey, which showed that 85% of the population wants to see supermarkets selling more food from British farms, an increase from 79% in 2014.

NFU deputy president Minette Batters said: “The important thing to remember about self-sufficiency is that it is a yardstick for measuring how competitive we are and how much we produce. It doesn’t mean limiting or reducing export; it means capitalising on what we are already good at and being able to provide Great British food to shoppers and food procurers throughout Britain. We know 85% of the public have said they want to see more British food on the shelves.”

“In a volatile world, it’s really important for a small island nation to prioritise food security. British food should be at the heart of government. Education, health and food and farming should be intrinsically linked. We want to thank all shoppers, from schoolchildren to pensioners, for supporting British food and farming. Get friends and family to make their voices heard by casting a vote for British food. To get involved, I’d ask them to visit”

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