THE NATIONAL Farmers Union (NFU) has revealed self-sufficiency in UK food production stating has dropped by 15% over the last twenty years.
According to the NFU, the latest figures show that as a nation the UK is currently only 60% self-sufficient, meaning that without imports from other countries we would only produce enough food to last 219 days.
The Union has said that self-sufficiency, though not the conclusive indicator for the success of the sector, is an important benchmark to measure the UK’s ability to produce food if its imports become restricted, as well as the sector’s potential to grow.
It is now encouraging consumers, retailers, politicians and the wider food industry to back British farming; to give ready, willing and able farmers the right signals to produce more, in an attempt to arrest the worrying and continuing decline of self-sufficiency in this country since 1991.
NFU President, Meurig Raymond, said: “We know people want to buy British food with 86 per cent of shoppers wanting to buy more traceable food produced on British farms. What we need now is for farming to be at the heart of decision-making across the wider food industry and government, to allow for more food to be both produced and consumed here, in the UK.
“Even though the latest figures are startling, British farming is a sector we can be proud of. It produces the raw ingredients for the £97bn UK food and drink industry. But the trade gap is widening – while our export performance has doubled in the last decade, we are spending £21.3bn more on imports than we are receiving from exports – up from £10.2bn in 1991. What needs to happen now is for us as a country to give farmers the green light to produce more food for us.
“Our aim is to ensure the country – consumers, politicians, retailers and the wider food industry – is backing British farming, and within this, a solid plan for agricultural growth to ensure the current self-sufficiency trend is reversed and long-term food security is supported.
“A growth plan would need a cohesive partnership of the industry and government Backing British Farming; valuing and buying more British food and helping to set a framework which supports increasing production. It would also look at how we can attract new entrants to farming and wider agriculture careers.”