NFU calls for food security

August 9 2016 marked the day in the calendar where the British larder would run bare if we fed the nation only British food from January 1.

NFU president Meurig Raymond
NFU president Meurig Raymond

The date is based on a calculation of UK current self-sufficiency of 61 per cent - a figure which has stagnated for the past 15 years.

The NFU says that UK Government has a "real opportunity" with post-Brexit policymaking to reverse the downward trend in the nation’s self-sufficiency in food. It believes the British market is a "vitally important" one for farming and food production as well as the UK economy. 

NFU president Meurig Raymond said: "For the first time in 40 years, the UK Government has an opportunity to create policies which will really work for businesses in the UK. For food production to thrive in this country, we need to see policies which will stimulate a competitive, dynamic and exciting farming industry.

"The British food and drink industry, which farming underpins, is the biggest manufacturing industry in the UK; it’s worth £108 billion and employs nearly four million people. This industry needs British farming to thrive in order to continue its success.

"Increasing our self-sufficiency in food isn’t about closing off the markets we have in other countries or being protectionist about our food production. It’s about capitalising on what this country is good at – we have world-class standards for food production in terms of traceability and animal welfare. 

"We have a massive opportunity for British farming, but, if it’s not seized, we risk exporting our ability to produce food to other countries without the standards British farming upholds as well as increased exposure to the volatility of global markets."

Raymond has also warned about labour: "Horticulture is already experiencing labour shortages and this looks set to get worse. And we know it’s not just horticulture that will be affected. Non-UK workers are often employed in a whole host of roles throughout farming and are crucial in day-to-day tasks as well as at peak times as we are now experiencing with harvest.

"We have already written to the Brexit minister, David Davis, about our concerns, and we continue to meet with Government departments, like the Home Office, to work on behalf of our members to seek assurance that they will be able to have access to the labour they need so they can continue to produce food for the nation.

"There are many ways in which the challenge of accessing labour could be solved and we are consulting with our members over the coming weeks to help find the best solutions. I plan to share their views with the new team at Defra to ensure these grassroots ideas help to shape the new domestic farm policy which is needed  - one that puts food and farming at its heart."

Self-sufficiency GB food 1988-2015 in % (average 61.8 per cent)

1988 

71

1989 

75

1990 

74

1991 

75

1992 

74

1993 

74

1994 

73

1995 

74

1996 

70

1997 

68

1998 

67

1999 

68

2000

67

2001

63

2002

63

2003

64

2004

62

2005

60

2006

59

2007

60

2008

60

2009

59

2010

61

2011

64

2012

63

2013

60

2014

62

2015

61


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