The NFU is using today [August 7] to highlight the backward slide of self-sufficiency in UK food production as it has dropped two per cent year-on-year to 60 per cent – despite British farmers being geared up to produce more.
Self-sufficiency, though not the conclusive indicator for the success of the sector, is an important benchmark to measure our ability to produce food if our imports become restricted, as well as the sector’s potential to grow.
The NFU is encouraging consumers, retailers, politicians and the wider food industry to Back British Farming; to give ready, willing and able farmers the right signals to produce more, in attempt to arrest the worrying and continuing decline of self-sufficiency in this country since 1991.
NFU President Meurig Raymond said: “To think UK food would only last until today without imports is an alarming notion. But looking back over the last two decades and seeing the downward slope in self-sufficiency says to me – this needs to change.
“We know people want to buy British food with 86 per cent of shoppers wanting to buy more traceable food produced on British farms. What we need now is for farming to be at the heart of decision-making across the wider food industry and government, to allow for more food to be both produced and consumed here, in the UK.
“From travelling across the country, I see fantastic farms on a daily basis that are efficient and productive businesses ready to produce more.
“Even though the latest figures are startling, British farming is a sector we can be proud of. It produces the raw ingredients for the £97bn UK food and drink industry. But the trade gap is widening – while our export performance has doubled in the last decade, we are spending £21.3bn more on imports than we are receiving from exports – up from £10.2bn in 1991. What needs to happen now is for us as a country is to give farmers the green light to produce more food for us.
“Our aim is to ensure the country – consumers, politicians, retailers and the wider food industry - is backing British farming, and within this, a solid plan for agricultural growth to ensure the current self-sufficiency trend is reversed and long-term food security is supported.
“A growth plan would need a cohesive partnership of the industry and government Backing British Farming; valuing and buying more British food and helping to set a framework which supports increasing production. It would also look at how we can attract new entrants to farming and wider agriculture careers.”