The NFU has called on the government to make a strong commitment to British farming to ensure a secure supply of home-grown food for shoppers after new figures put the UK’s self-sufficiency at 61%.
The call, issued on Sunday, 11 August, was timed for release on the day the UK would notionally have run out of food if we had only eaten British food from 1 January 2019.
The union said its ambition is for British farmers to produce more food for a growing population while at the same time delivering on an ambitious plan to achieve net zero in agricultural emissions by 2040.
“We have a great story to tell,” said NFU President Minette Batters. “From West Country Red Tractor assured beef to Welsh lamb, Cumbrian sausages to Kent strawberries, and Herefordshire apples to Wensleydale cheese – our farmers and growers are delivering some of the highest quality food in the world.
“But we also deliver so much more. When people buy British food they are buying into standards that protect and enhance our natural resources and iconic landscapes. They are buying into world-leading standards of animal welfare, and they are buying into the role farmers are playing in combatting the climate change challenge that is facing us all.”
Calling on the Government for a ‘clear pledge’ that it will not let self-sufficiency levels fall below Sunday’s 61%, Ms Batters challenged the country’s political leaders to take the issue seriously.
“While we will never be completely self-sufficient as a country,” she said, “it is vital that Britain takes its role as a food producer for its growing population seriously and does not rely on the rest of the world – with wildly varying standards of production – to feed our population which is likely to grow to 73 million people in 20 years’ time.
“In the next few weeks we will have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shape our future. I hope Sunday acts a wake-up call for all those in power to look at what can be gained and also what is at stake.”