Brexit offers the Government the opportunity to Back British farming and improve the country’s food sustainability, the NFU said at the British Science Festival.

NFU Deputy President Minette Batters stressed the important role British farmers can play in securing Britain's domestic food supply for the future, in a debate on food sustainability.

The NFU said that as an industry which provides the raw ingredients for the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, food and drink, maintains 70% of the nation’s landscape and provides jobs for 3.8 million people, it can play a "vital role" post-Brexit.

Figures show that Britain currently produces 60% of its own food, and according to the NFU, this figure is in long-term decline.

Food self-sufficiency statistics have always been an important measure of the nation’s ability to feed itself.

It comes as news that almost nine out of ten people in the UK do not trust foreign food chains, with just 12% of people having confidence in the European food chain and 7% in global food suppliers.

The farming industry said the report is a sign that consumers are opting to buy British more than ever, due to its reputation for trustworthiness and safety.

'Long been overlooked'

Commenting on the debate at the British Science Festival, Mrs Batters said the role of food in the UK has "long been overlooked" by successive Governments.

“It is time that we recognise its importance to the nation and its people, particularly as we move towards Brexit,” she said.

“Farming underpins much of the nation including the food and drink sector, rural communities and the countryside. It is vital that this contribution is recognised in Brexit negotiations.

“The NFU is keen for the farming sector to explore the benefits of trade but we can take advantage of the fantastic skills in the farming sector and build on those. A policy of continuously buying in food that we can produce within our own shores risks undermining the work of British farmers.

“We are calling on the Government to deliver policies that will ensure that Britain retains its ability to be more self-sufficient, support home-grown food and ensure that we have profitable, productive and progressive farm businesses for the future.

“However, farmers can be part of the solution for a wide-range of issues beyond food including caring for the environment, fighting climate change and embracing green energy.”

Talks have been under way that could allow online grocery shoppers to only buy British products, farming minister George Eustice announced back in March.

Mr Eustice said he was talking to the NFU about a radical new online labelling system for food.

 

Source Farming UK, September 2017