The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has warned that Britain would run out of food within a year if it was forced to be self-sufficient. Anna Tobin reports
The president of the NFU Minette Batters has warned the Government that a year today, 7 August 2019, is the day that Britain would run out of food if the country had to rely only on home-produced food supplies from 1 January 2019. She has urged the Government to put the nation’s food security at the top of the political agenda.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) figures show that Britain produced 60% of its own food in 2017 and that this rate is in long-term decline.
The unprecedented hot, dry weather will not have helped the near future supplies of food either. With Brexit just eight months away, the NFU wants to highlight the importance of being able to easily import food to supplement home-grown supplies and the need to support the British farming industry.
“We strongly believe that every British citizen should be entitled to a safe, traceable and high-quality supply of British food that is produced to some of the highest animal welfare and environmental standards in the world,” said Batters. “Home-grown food production must have the unwavering support of Government if we are to achieve this post-Brexit.
“The statistics show a concerning long-term decline in the UK’s self-sufficiency in food and there is a lot of potential for this to be reversed. And while we recognise the need for importing food which can only be produced in different climates, if we maximise on the food that we can produce well in the UK then that will deliver a whole host of economic, social and environmental benefits to the country.
“The UK farming sector has the potential to be one of the most impacted sectors from a bad Brexit – a free and frictionless free trade deal with the EU and access to a reliable and competent workforce for farm businesses is critical to the future of the sector. And as we replace the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, we must keep a sharp focus on what productive, progressive and profitable farm businesses need from a domestic agricultural policy.”