The NFU has written a letter in response to a column by Max Hastings in The Times, titled ‘Farmers need to be the nation’s park keepers’, which suggested that hosting campers will become more profitable than raising livestock in a post-Brexit landscape.
In her response, NFU President Minette Batters wrote:
In his article ‘Farmers need to be the nation’s park keepers’, Max Hastings covers a range of complex issues but the thing he fails to mention is the importance of food security and the value of food production.
Public support for British food is at a record high, with 86% of people agreeing* British famers should grow as much food as possible to provide national food security. As the current COVID-19 health crisis has demonstrated, we need a secure supply of food to flow to our supermarket shelves from a farming sector able to withstand volatility and ride out shocks in the marketplace.
Public investment in farming must show a multifaceted return. It’s vital we encourage entrepreneurial businesses both large and small to invest in the future of British food production; delivering carbon neutral food, improving soil health, and growing much more of our fruit and vegetables here in the UK.
If we only invest in the environment, then who pays for it and where will we get our food from in the future? The public purse simply can’t afford a nation of park keepers.
The letter was published by The Times on Saturday 1 August.
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