NFU President Meurig Raymond is calling on policy-makers to grasp Brexit as an opportunity to enhance the nation’s ability to produce food.
Sunday 6 August marks the theoretical day in the calendar when the British larder would run bare if we fed the nation only home-grown food from 1 January. Figures show that Britain produces 60% of its own food and this rate is both falling and in long-term decline.
NFU President Meurig Raymond said: “Food self-sufficiency statistics have always been an important measure of the nation’s ability to feed itself. But since the UK voted to leave the EU, and with trade negotiations now starting, the supply of British food is now seen in a very different light. Government recognition of farming’s enormous contribution to this country will be vital in the coming weeks and months.
“Farmers deliver for our economy, providing jobs and driving growth in rural communities. We provide the raw materials for a domestic food industry that employs 3.8m people, generates £109bn in value for the UK economy and 13% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
“We’re not advocating a fully self-sufficient nation - we recognise the need for importing food which can only be produced in different climates. But what we should be doing is maximising on the food production we are good at, and looking at the potential for this. If we buy in foods that we are capable of producing ourselves then we risk exporting all the environmental, economic and social benefits that farming delivers here in Britain.
“It is interesting to see that since the UK voted to leave the EU, 25% of people think it’s now more important to buy British food. We already knew that 86% of shoppers say they want to buy more British food.
“We are calling on the government to deliver policies that will ensure that Britain retains its ability to be more self-sufficient, support home-grown food and ensure that we have profitable, productive and progressive farm businesses for the future.”