Yesterday marked the day in the calendar where the British larder would run bare if we fed the nation only British food from 1 January, according to a report published by the NFU. The figure is based on the country’s current self-sufficiency of 61% – a figure which has stagnated for the past 15 years and compares with 75% back in 1989.
The NFU is calling on the Government to increase Britain’s self-sufficiency in food, saying it has a real opportunity with post-Brexit policymaking to reverse the downward trend. 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 £108bn 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.”