Farm leaders have called for a government commitment that Britain’s food production will not slip below its current level of 60% self-sufficiency.
The NFU made the call on Back British Farming Day – Wednesday 15 September – as it launched a report highlighting the importance of domestic food production and its contribution to food security.
NFU president Minette Batters said it was vital that the government demonstrated greater ambition in promoting British food at home and abroad – and praised the efforts of growers and livestock producers in feeding the nation.
“British farmers produce some of the best food in the world. Not only is it delicious and nutritious, but it is produced to incredibly high environmental, animal welfare, traceability, and food safety standards – something not every country is able to say.”
Over the past few years, too little importance had been placed on Britain’s food production, said Mrs Batters. This had been all too clear as the country has seen self-sufficiency in food drop from 78% in the mid-1980s to just 60% today.
“As an island nation which is very well suited for quality food production, it would be a mistake to let that happen again and become even more reliant on the rest of the world to feed us,” said Mrs Batters.
The NFU wants the government to complete a comprehensive study on UK food security later this year – covering the country’s production of key foods and its contribution to global food security.
It says this would be the first proper assessment of UK food security in over a decade – and the first under the Agriculture Act that requires reporting every three years.
The NFU argues that the UK could reduce its reliance on food imports by harnessing opportunities for different home-grown foods and increasing British sourcing in public procurement – such as schools and hospitals.
It also wants the government to introduce more ambitious food and trade strategies that will help farmers provide more quality, affordable and climate-friendly food to people at home and abroad.
Mrs Batters said: “Delivering a comprehensive report into food security and taking appropriate action in response would show the government is serious and ambitious about boosting sustainable food production in Britain.”