Just 53% of the UK’s food needs will be produced from home farms in the next 25 years, according to a new report published today by the National Farmers Union (NFU), coinciding with the opening of the union’s annual conference in Birmingham.
The report, which is called “Backing British Farming in a volatile world” highlights what the union called “disturbing new figures relating to the UK’s self-sufficiency in food”.
“With the population expected to boom over the coming decades, there will be around 13 million extra mouths in the UK by the time the country’s self-sufficiency in home-grown food is predicted to hit dwindling new lows,” said the NFU, pointing out that the self-sufficiency curve was stuck on a 30-year downward spiral.
“Britain’s farmers are becoming steadily less competitive when compared with other countries in Europe,” said NFU president, Meurig Raymond, in the report forward.
“For three decades the UK’s self-sufficiency has insidiously declined; yet the opportunity is clear. Domestic and global demand for food and renewable energy is on the rise: 88 per cent of the UK public thinks that farming is important to the economy. Almost three-quarters of the public want to halt the nation’s declining self-sufficiency. Farmers are ready too, with the potential to grow production and reduce our reliance on imported produce.
“What is needed now is a government that understands farming, that has a long-term ambition for the sector’s growth and that has the policies to send the right business signals to the UK’s farmers in times as challenging as now, as well as in the future. British food production is too important to the country to ignore or disregard.”
The report then list 10 “top asks” for a future UK government to address:
- A UK Government engaging and championing farming in EU policy making, leading with review of CAP greening.
- Comprehensive Agri-Food strategy to grow UK food production over the next government’s term, reversing the long-term decline in UK self-sufficiency.
- Robust scientific evidence to ensure continued access to a wide range of plant protection products using risk-based assessments.
- Implement all elements of the 25-year TB Eradication Strategy.
- Support and extension of the Grocery Code Adjudicator role to all links in the supply chain between producers and intermediaries.
- Fiscal incentives that enable farm businesses to manage volatility and promote capital investment.
- Increased investment in UK-relevant agri-science, including development and approval of biotechnology tools through to commercialisation.
- Accelerated rollout of high-speed broadband to all rural areas.
- Accurate food and farming information supplied to schools and colleges.
- Planning rules that enable farmers and farm enterprises to compete and grow with expanding potential market and conform to regulatory requirements.