THE NATIONAL FARMERS Union (NFU) is urging the public to back a campaign to help stem the decreases in agricultural self-sufficiency.
Research shows that the UK produces just 62% of its own food; in quantitative terms this means that today (14th August) food supplies would run out if no imports had been bought in since the 1st January.
In response the NFU is launching a Charter, calling on the public, politicians and the food industry to pledge their support to increase agricultural output in Britain.
NFU President Peter Kendall said the decline in self-sufficiency in many sectors should be a warning signal that something is wrong:
“To think that today’s date would signal the time when our domestic food supply runs out is frankly alarming”, said Mr Kendall. “It says to me that we must act.
“As an industry we have had a challenging decade but the realisation has dawned that as a nation we can’t simply go around the world chasing the cheapest deal for our food.
“So, instead we need to look closer to home. Right across the board farmers have a fantastic natural capacity to produce more British food, given the right market signals and the confidence to invest. We have the right technologies to produce more from less with precision farming helping to target fertiliser and crop protection products within centimetres. Laser technology can even pinpoint an individual weed, improving accuracy and efficiency. Crops grown under cover help to lengthen the season for our British fruits.
“I want to know our government is really getting to grips with its food vision and ensuring that sustainable, productive farming is across all government departments. Let’s create an environment which really means farming businesses can invest. Let’s address market failure and iron-out volatility to enable the entire food chain to grow supply.
“We have all learned the lessons of long, complex supply chains and retailers are all telling me that they want to work with British farmers to ensure their shelves are stocked with more British produce. We currently import around £37.6bn of food and drink. We are a trading nation but at a time of economic uncertainty a strong food producing industry is essential.
“Consumers are increasingly showing their support for British farming and are our best ally. I would ask to them to continue showing their support by demanding of their local supermarket, restaurant, or MP - what are you doing to Back British Farming?”
The Charter is available to read online, and anyone who wishes can sign it.