Food security – making British farming a national priority

An image of a British flag surrounded by great British food.

The first food security summit at 10 Downing Street has put domestic food production right at the top of the national political agenda, following years of NFU campaigning. Now the NFU has vowed to continue to make sure it stays there.

Food security has been recognised at the highest levels as being of great national importance as the UK Government held its first Farm to Fork Summit in 10 Downing Street.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who hosted the event following meetings with NFU President Minette Batters, said: “Supporting our farmers and food producers must, and always will be, at the heart of our plans to grow the economy and build a more prosperous country.  
“That’s why I’m proud to host this summit, and working together, I’m determined to build resilience, strengthen our food security and champion the best of British at home and overseas.” 

The recognition follows sustained NFU work to set out a vision for British food security based on strong farming policies. In 2020 this culminated in a focus on maintaining food standards in new trade deals – supported by more than one million members of the public – and then on food security as supply chains came under pressure from the effects of the Covid pandemic and war in Ukraine.

Minette said: “I am absolutely delighted that the Prime Minister has honoured the commitments he made when he addressed our hustings event back in the summer to hold this food summit at Number 10, and we welcome the announcements made today.
“They show a recognition and an understanding of the strategic importance of British food and farming to the nation.
“These actions recognise the importance of coordinated action across government to support confidence, investment and growth in British food. We look forward to working with the Prime Minister, the Defra Secretary and the rest of the cabinet to Back British farming and bolster our domestic food security.”

More to be done

But British farmers and growers need government policies to enable them to continue to produce food in the countryside for generations to come. We are continuing to call on the government to deliver its commitments to food security, starting with:

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Keeping the nation fed

Throughout world wars, the financial crisis, and a global pandemic, a strong supply of homegrown food has been crucial.

Yet recent events have shown vulnerability in our supply chains and have put pressure on food production.

The cost of energy, animal feed and tools to grow food since the covid pandemic have risen to historic highs, putting more farms across the country at risk.

We have launched a food security campaign calling for fairness for British farmers and growers, galvanising public support behind the idea that our supermarket shelves should never be empty of any food that can be produced by farmers and growers in Britain.

You can join more than 45,000 members of the public and show your support by adding your name to the Back British Farming food security campaign.

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‘The clock is ticking’

President Minette Batters told the NFU’s 2023 annual conference, “the clock is ticking” and that “time is almost up for this government to start walking the talk”.

In August 2022, Rishi Sunak committed to back British farming as he made his bid to become Prime Minister.

Following an emergency press conference called by the NFU in December of that year the Conservative leader reiterated his commitments to food security.

The NFU has remained on the front foot, and in April, Minette Batters gave evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee as politicians focussed on food security during a key Westminster Hall debate.

Social media posts by the NFU have bolstered the many appearances of its officeholders across the national media in print, online, television and radio.

Our calls for action have been seen nearly half a million times on social media in the last week, and the NFU will continue to mobilise supporters until the government follows through on all of its commitments to British farmers and growers.


Food security: the NFU campaign so far

February 2024

NFU meets with Defra

NFU President Tom Bradshaw met Defra Secretary Steve Barclay MP and reiterated the NFU’s steadfast call for fairness for British farmers and growers in all future trade deals.

January 2024

UK suspends trade talks with Canada

In keeping with the NFU’s principles for balanced trade negotiations, the government suspended UK-Canada trade talks having assessed that the deal would undermine our high food standards.

May 2023

Food security summit hosted at Number 10

10 Downing Street holds a food summit to take action on a raft of NFU policy asks and 'champion UK food and drink'.

With the NFU having consistently called for more agri attachés to promote British food and drink to new markets around the globe, the Prime Minister announced that the number of attachés will be increased to 16 by May 2024.

April 2023

MPs debate food security

Following relentless NFU campaigning MPs focus on the actions needed to ensure a secure supply of British food during a Westminster Hall debate. On the same day NFU President Minette Batters gives evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee.

March 2023

Public support closes in on 50,000

More than 40,000 people add their name to our calls for the UK Government to set a food security target, monitor production levels and host a summit in 2023.

February 2023

'Clock is ticking' warns NFU President

Amid scenes of empty shelves across the nation Minette Batters tells the NFU's annual conference that unless robust commitments to food security are delivered by the UK Government then shelves could be empty again later in the year.

January 2023

The Food & Drink Export Council meets for the first time

The NFU focuses its Back British Farming campaign on galvanising public support for a secure supply of homegrown food on British shelves to ensure stocks never run out.

Following this significant push from the NFU to grow our exports, the government established the Food and Drink Export Council, bringing together industry experts and devolved governments to promote British exports abroad.

December 2022

Minette Batters goes to Number 10

NFU President Minette Batters meets Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to double down on commitments to set a food security target and host a UK wide annual summit.

December 2022

Emergency press conference

The NFU calls an emergency press conference as farmers and growers say they are being unfairly treated as supply chains struggle to keep shelves stocked.

November 2022

Food part of our national security says former MI5 Director General

Speaking at the fifth annual Henry Plumb lecture the former MI5 Director General The Right Honourable Baroness Manningham-Buller LG DCB called for the UK produce as much of its own food as possible, as she set out the three C’s of challenges to food security in the 21st century – climate, covid, and conflict.

August 2022

Race to become Prime Minister

The NFU secures food security commitments from leadership candidates Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak as they bid to become the next Prime Minister.

April 2022

NFU sets out vision to grow exports

The NFU set out a detailed strategy outlining its ambition to grow the UK’s food, drink and agricultural exports by 30% by 2030, bringing the total value of UK agri-food exports to over £30 billion.

November 2021

UK Government announces eight new agriculture attachés

Following sustained NFU campaigning, Defra recruits eight new agri-food attachés to help boost the UK’s agri-food exports, bringing the total number of dedicated UK agri-food attachés to 11. Find out more

November 2020

Scrutiny of trade deals secured in law

After extensive campaigning by the NFU, the government agreed to put in law a system that means each new free trade deal will be scrutinised by parliament for its impact on animal welfare and British farming before it’s ratified. This is why an official Trade and Agriculture Commission is a victory for British farming and the future of food on our plates.

September 2020

Jamie Oliver applies more pressure of government

After working closely with the NFU's food standards campaign Jamie Oliver launches his own new campaign which highlights how trade deals that are currently being negotiated will impact on the food on our plates for years to come. He's joined by Joe Wicks, Anita Rani and a host of well-known faces. Take a look.

July 2020

Government answers our calls for a commission

The UK Government answers our calls for a Trade, Food and Farming Standards Commission to advise on the best ways to maintain high food production standards in any future trade deals.

June 2020

Our food standards petition hits one million signatures

More than a million people pledged their support for our petition by 18 June. It is the clearest indication yet that the British public does not want to see food on their supermarket shelves, or in their restaurants and cafes, that falls below the standards British farmers adhere to.

June 2020

Thousands of supporters email their MP

We invited those people who took the time to sign our petition, to email their MP. 78,000 people took this action and called on their MP for the establishment of a Trade, Food and Farming Standards commission.

May 2020

NFU secures support from Jamie Oliver

Chef and campaigner Jamie Oliver wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister in the Mail on Sunday as part of the newspaper's 'Save Our Family Farms' campaign, asking him to prevent 'opening the floodgates to a whole raft of low-quality food that would normally be illegal in the UK'. A video he posted on Facebook sparked an overwhelming response from the British public. Delia Smith followed suit a few days later, urging her fans to sign our petition and bolstering support for our campaign even further.

Februaury 2020

NFU launches food standards campaign petition

We launched our petition calling on the UK government to put laws in place that prevent imports of food that is produced in ways that are illegal in the UK.

January 2020

NFU leads the charge on food standards and trade deals as Brexit looms

The NFU mobilised a huge coalition of farming, environmental, animal welfare and public health organisations to write a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ask that high British food standards are protected in future trade deals.

See our manifesto asks

Our manifesto

Our general election manifesto – Farming for Britain's Future – outlines our key asks of the next government to ensure farmers and growers can continue to deliver for the environment, economy and local communities while producing more of the great British food we all enjoy.

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