BREXIT FREEDOM: EU exit could make Britain ‘self-sufficient’ again – farming boss
BREXIT must breathe life into the country’s farming industry to ensure supermarket shelves are filled with more British goods than ever before, the National Farmer’s Union (NFU) boss has said.
Sunday, August 6, marked the theoretical day Britain would run out of food if the nation was fed only homegrown food from January 1, according to the NFU.
Britain produces less than two-thirds (60 per cent) of the food the country consumes, down from 75 per cent in 1991.
And now NFU President Meurig Raymond is calling on Theresa May’s government to ensure the UK becomes more self-sufficient to produce more British goods.
The move will stop Britain’s supermarkets being flooded by cheap imported foods after the UK finally unshackles itself from the European Union (EU).
Mr Raymond said: “Food self-sufficiency statistics have always been an important measure of the nation’s ability to feed itself.
“But since the UK voted to leave the EU, and with trade negotiations now starting, the supply of British food is now seen in a very different light.
Britain produces less than two-thirds (60 per cent) of the food the country consumes
“Government recognition of farming’s enormous contribution to this country will be vital in the coming weeks and months.”
It comes after Michael Gove said Brexit offers a “historic” chance to reshape agricultural policy for farmers and consumers when he was appointed Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
The NFU had warned the “wrong” Brexit deal could result in labour shortages and the government forced to foot the bill to help farmers cope with market and price volatility.
But Mr Raymond, who has been NFU president since 2014, said now is the time to bridge the gap between homegrown food and imported goods.
He said it was vital farmers “maximised” on food production of British goods.
The NFU boss added: “Farmers deliver for our economy, providing jobs and driving growth in rural communities. We provide the raw materials for a domestic food industry that employs 3.8m people, generates £109bn in value for the UK economy and 13 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
“We’re not advocating a fully self-sufficient nation – we recognise the need for importing food which can only be produced in different climates.
“But what we should be doing is maximising on the food production we are good at, and looking at the potential for this.
“If we buy in foods that we are capable of producing ourselves then we risk exporting all the environmental, economic and social benefits that farming delivers here in Britain.” – Express