The empty supermarket shelves we saw earlier this year could happen again without urgent action from government and the food supply chain says Zoe Leach, East regional director for the National Farmers' Union (NFU).

As supermarkets across Norfolk drop customer limits on buying fresh fruit and vegetables, it appears the immediate crisis that led to widespread shortages is easing. 

However, empty supermarket shelves are unlikely to be a one-off unless action is taken by government and the wider supply chain.

It is true that unseasonably cold and wet weather hit production in southern Europe and north Africa, contributing to shortages of cucumbers, tomatoes and cucumbers in UK stores

But our food supply chain was already creaking under huge strain, with farmers and growers reducing production due to factors including high inflation, soaring energy costs and a worrying lack of labour.

The fact that there were one billion fewer eggs available in 2022 than in 2019 is a stark illustration of that.

The cost of energy, animal feed and tools to grow food today is at an historic high, putting more farms across the country at risk. 

In response, the NFU has launched a campaign calling for fairness for British farmers and growers. We want to rally public support behind the idea that our supermarket shelves should never be empty of food that can be produced by farmers and growers in Britain. 

We have an opportunity to send a clear message to the UK government, demonstrating that the public care about the food they eat and the farms who produce that food. 

British food and farming must be a political priority, both for this government and the next, and the promises made by prime minister Rishi Sunak in August 2022 need to be delivered. 

This includes establishing a new food security target, including a statutory duty to monitor and report on domestic food production levels annually and to introduce a new target for public sector organisations to buy 50pc of their food locally. 

The clock is ticking. Now is the time for the government to deliver on its commitments.