The National Farmers Union (NFU) has called on the Government to ensure Britain’s food production will not fall below its current level of 60% self-sufficiency.
The clarion call comes as the NFU unveiled its latest report British Food: Leading the way, which has asked for the Government to complete a comprehensive report on UK food security later this year, covering the country’s production of key foods and its contribution to global food security, alongside greater ambition in promoting British food at home and abroad to aid food security.
The NFU said that this would be the first meaningful assessment of UK food security in over a decade and the first under the requirements of the Agriculture Act that mandate reporting every three years.
The report also highlights how the UK can reduce its reliance on food imports by harnessing the growth opportunities for different home-grown foods and increasing British sourcing in public procurement, alongside ‘ambitious’ food and trade strategies that it said will help farmers provide more quality, affordable and climate-friendly food to people at home and abroad.
NFU President Minette Batters said that despite British farmers producing ‘some of the best food in the world’, in recent years ‘not enough importance has been placed on Britain’s food production’.
“This has been all too clear as the country has watched its self-sufficiency drop from as high as 78% in the mid-80s to its current level of just 60%,” said Ms Batters. “As an island nation which is very well suited for quality food production, it would be a mistake to let that happen again and become even more reliant on the rest of the world to feed us.”
She said that delivering a comprehensive report into food security and taking appropriate action in response would show the government is serious about boosting sustainable food production in Britain, helping reduce the UK’s reliance on imports and enable farmers to build the British brand overseas through trade.
Ms Batters added: “If our government truly backs the potential of British food and farming, the country could see huge benefits. British farmers could increase the industry’s economic contribution and provide more nutritious, affordable, climate-friendly British food for UK shoppers and people across the world, all while bolstering domestic and global food security.”