NFU secures major victories on food security

Rishi Sunak and Minette Batters have a meeting.

NFU President, Minette Batters has a one on one meeting with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during the Farm to Fork summit. Credit: Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street (CC BY 2.0)

The Farm to Fork Summit on food security, which Prime Minster Rishi Sunak hosted at 10 Downing Street yesterday, marked a significant step in the NFU’s campaign for recognition of the strategic importance of British food and farming.

The NFU has long been campaigning for the government to back British farming and make a secure supply of home-grown food a political priority.

Major wins

The summit coincided with several announcements which represent major wins for the NFU.

These include:

  • Reviews into fairness in the horticulture and egg supply chains;
  • A new bespoke £1m programme to help dairy businesses export;
  • Replacing the retained EU Fruit and Vegetable Producer Organisation Scheme when it closes in 2026;
  • Five additional agri-food and drink attaches who will help spearhead the removal of restrictive market barriers;
  • Making it easier to build new glasshouses through changes to national planning policy;
  • A commitment that the Groceries Code Adjudicator will not be merged with the Competition and Markets Authority, in recognition of its importance in ensuring our food supply chains function as they should;
  • Additional investment of up to around £30 million to unlock the potential of precision breeding.

“The announcements show a recognition and an understanding of the strategic importance of British food and farming to the nation and recognise the importance of coordinated action across government to support confidence, investment and growth in British food.”

NFU President Minette Batters

Trade commitments

As well as these wins, there was also a focus on international trade at the summit and the government made a number of commitments on issues relating to future Free Trade Agreements and export opportunities for farmers that the NFU has been highlighting, including:

  • Protecting sensitive sectors, including through permanent quotas where deemed appropriate – this reflects the government’s approach with the CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership);
  • Protecting UK food standards under all existing and future free trade agreements – this means there will be no chlorine-washed chicken or hormone-treated beef in the UK market;
  • Prioritising new export opportunities for UK food and drink;
  • Removing market access barriers to make it easier for food producers to enter new markets.
  • The promise of an additional £2 million to strengthen the UK’s presence at major trade shows.

Strategic importance

Speaking after the summit NFU President Minette Batters said: “I am absolutely delighted that the Prime Minister has delivered on the commitment he made to NFU members last year to host this summit.

"The number of Cabinet Ministers present shows the ambition for cross-departmental coordination to deliver measures to boost home-grown food production.

"Many of the farmers and growers I represent will be relieved to see UK food security being taken seriously by the government.

“The announcements made today show a recognition and an understanding of the strategic importance of British food and farming to the nation.

"And the actions also recognise the importance of coordinated action across government to support confidence, investment and growth in British food.

“What we need now is to build on these announcements.

"We are calling for a set of core agri-food import standards for trade.

"Whilst it is pleasing government is looking to maintain self-sufficiency at 60%, we believe there’s an opportunity to produce much more of our own food here.

"We can and should be more ambitious and look to move beyond this target.

"Vitally, the Farm to Fork Summit should become an annual event, as our food supply is part of the UK’s national infrastructure and will ensure that food security never drops down the political agenda, across all parties, again.”

See how we got here

Dominating media coverage

The press team have been working behind the scenes to make sure the NFU were at the forefront of the news agenda ahead of and after the Number 10 Farm to Fork Food Summit. Coverage included NFU President Minette Batters discussing what the NFU was looking for at the summit in interviews on:

Newsnight (32:36) also interviewed NFU Suffolk county chair Andrew Blenkiron, who talked about farmers having to cut down production due to input costs.

Minette was interviewed alongside NFU Cymru President Aled Jones on Farming Today (Minette, 01:10; Aled, 12:54), discussing the expectations the NFU had for the summit. Aled also appeared on BBC Radio Cymru’s Post Prynhawn programme (41:25) to speak about the summit.

Channel 4 News (21:58) spoke to NFU Deputy President Tom Bradshaw from his farm, where gave his reaction to the government’s announcements.

NFU combinable crops board appointee Will Oliver was on ITV Good Morning Britain, from his farm hosting a segment of the show about the summit. NFU member’s Charles Goadby was also on ITV News and NFU member Guy Smith was on BBC Breakfast (33:50) discussing their reactions to the summit.

Print coverage included a column Minette wrote for the Daily Mail which highlighted the summit’s significance, as well as both the Independent and The Guardian discussing the NFU’s response to the meeting.

Business reporter Joanna Partridge from The Guardian also offered her own analysis on the day, quoting Minette and the NFU.

Aled Jones spoke to The Times, discussing seasonal workers and access to labour, and the Financial Times also discussed the topic in conjunction with the summit.

Finally, NFU horticulture and potatoes board member Julian Marks was interviewed by BBC News Online on his rising input costs and overseas workers.

Other outlets reporting on the summit which mention NFU’s involvement included the Daily Mirror, ITV, i News, and the Daily Mail. The total maximum monthly readership of these combined news outlets is around 82m.

In the regions

There was wide coverage across the regions, with many NFU board chairs and members across the country discussing the food summit. This included:

  • NFU Cymru President Aled Jones on Radio Wales Drive (1:17:32)
  • NFU Cymru Head of Policy Dylan Morgan on BBC Radio Cymru (7:40)
  • NFU East Anglia regional policy manager Charles Hesketh on BBC Look East, 18:20
  • NFU environment forum member Joe Stanley on BBC Radio Northampton (3:16:40) and BBC Radio Leicester (1:12:59)
  • Former NFU Staffordshire regional chair Robert Lockhart on BBC Radio Stoke (11:59)
  • NFU Council delegate Andrew Ward on ITV Calendar and GB News
  • NFU Lincolnshire county chair and regional board chair Nick Dowler on BBC Radio Lincolnshire
  • Former NFU Vice President Paul Temple on BBC Humberside

NFU in the news

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