Next government faces ‘stark choice’ on farming

British farmers will produce just half the nation’s food needs if current trends continue, an NFU report has warned.

UK self-sufficiency in food production will fall to just 53% within 25 years unless the downward trend is reversed, says the report, published on Tuesday (24 February).

The document was launched to coincide with the start of the two-day NFU annual conference, which is taking place in Birmingham.

See also: Defra slammed for stance on UK self-sufficiency

UK food self sufficiency stood at 74% in 1991. But it has already fallen to 60%, the report says – with serious implications for the British economy, food security and employment.

The NFU says action is needed now, and from successive governments, to reverse what it describes as a “current negative trend”.

New YouGov figures show that 85% of the population want to see supermarkets selling more food from British farms – an increase from 79% in 2014.

NFU president Meurig Raymond said: “Today’s report highlights the causes of the decline in self-sufficiency, including shifting and conflicting direction on European and UK farm policy.”

With a general election now less than three months away, the NFU is calling on the next government to implement a food strategy with a clear direction for UK agriculture.

Mr Raymond said: “The stark choice for the next government is whether to trust the nation’s food security to volatile world markets or to Back British Farming and reverse the worrying trend in food production.

“I know what I want to happen. I want to see a robust plan for increasing the productive potential of farming, stimulating investment and ensuring that the drive to increase British food production is at the heart of every government department.”

Read the full NFU report: Backing British Farming in a Volatile World