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Today is the day we would run out of food without imports, say farmers

The UK's self-sufficiency in vegetables and potatoes has fallen by 16pc in the past 20 years, says the NFU. Picture: Tim Scrivener

The UK's self-sufficiency in vegetables and potatoes has fallen by 16pc in the past 20 years, says the NFU. Picture: Tim Scrivener

©Tim Scrivener

The government has been urged to help East Anglian farmers to bolster the nation’s food security and self-sufficiency – on the day it is estimated the UK’s larders would run bare without imports.

Falling self-sufficiency figures and the challenges of Covid-19 prove the need for the government to prioritise homegrown food, says NFU East Anglia regional director Gary Ford. Picture: PagepixFalling self-sufficiency figures and the challenges of Covid-19 prove the need for the government to prioritise homegrown food, says NFU East Anglia regional director Gary Ford. Picture: Pagepix

Today marks the notional date in the calendar that would see the country run out of food if it relied solely on UK produce, according to the National Farmers’ Union (NFU).

The organisation says the nation’s food security currently sits at 64pc and has remained “stagnant” for years, having fallen from over 75pc in the mid 1980s.

NFU East Anglia regional director Gary Ford said that, with the right support, farm businesses could make the most of the region’s climate, skills and natural resources to boost domestic food production as part of a “green recovery” from Covid-19.

“There will always be a place for imports in our food system, but we have the potential to produce more here and to become a global leader in sustainable food production,” he said.

“Our self-sufficiency in vegetables and potatoes has fallen by 16pc in the past 20 years and we are only 18pc self-sufficient in fruit.

“At a time when we should all be eating more fruit and veg, we should be looking to our farmers to deliver more quality, affordable and home-grown fresh produce to our shelves. Farmers in East Anglia are up for the challenge, but the government has a crucial role to play to facilitate and encourage this.”

NFU president Minette Batters said: “For an island nation, being able to feed our population is absolutely critical. Even as a global trading nation, shocks can expose fragilities in any reliance on imports. We all experienced the impact of this during lockdown.

“Imports will always play a crucial role in our food system but our own self-sufficiency must be paid more attention by government. It is stagnating.

“The entire economy is now aiming to build back better, to build back greener. British farming can be central to that green recovery. We have a golden opportunity to place food security at the centre of our food system and become a global leader in sustainable food production.

“We have the capacity to do much more. We cannot let our self-sufficiency slip further. The government has a crucial role to play in this. Food security should be placed at the heart of wider government policies and there needs to be an annual reporting system to ensure we do not allow our domestic food production to diminish.”


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