National Farmers’ Union president Minette Batters has urged the Government to put the nation’s food security at the top of the agenda as latest figures on UK’s self-sufficiency in food have stagnated.

Tuesday, August 7, marks the national day in the calendar where the British larder would run bare if we fed the nation only British food from January 1.

Defra figures for 2017 show that Britain produced 60% of its own food and this rate is in long-term decline.

NFU president Minette Batters says food self-sufficiency statistics have always been an important measure of the nation’s ability to feed itself.

With Brexit just eight months away, she said, it shines a new light on the supply of British food.

‘Our ability to produce our own food is truly important’

“British food production has been pulled into sharp focus in recent weeks with farmers across the country wrangling with the impacts of unprecedented dry and hot weather,” she said.

“This has been a real test for Government to show the farmers and the many concerned members of the public that they think that our ability to produce food in this country is truly important.

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.

“Home-grown food production must have the unwavering support of Government if we are to achieve this post-Brexit.”

Declining self-sufficiency

Less than 30 years ago, Britain was 74% self-sufficient for food compared with just 60% today.

“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,” Batters added.

“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.

“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.”