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Neglect British Agriculture, Again, at Your Peril

‘Stark choice’: Britain will import 50% of food by 2040, farmers union warns

                                                     Published time: February 24, 2015 17:13                                                                                                     




Reuters / Darren Staples

Reuters / Darren Staples

The UK will be importing more than half of its food supplies within a decade due to a growing population and stagnating farm productivity, farming leaders have warned.

The National Farmers’   Union (NFU) said the UK’s falling levels of self-sufficiency  would leave the population exposed to changeable prices and  shortages.

  Speaking at their annual conference Tuesday, the union called on  politicians to invest in a more sustainable farming future for  Britain and create a higher level of independence.

  NFU president Meurig Raymond warned that the future of the UK’s  agricultural stability was at risk.

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 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,” he said.

  The union further blamed “poorly crafted regulation” for  the decline in home produce, saying that EU and UK policies had   “over-emphasized environmental rather than production  outcomes and complicated the business of farming” and that  farmers had littler power against multinational corporations.

  Farmers at the conference in Birmingham have urged politicians to  step up their commitment to agricultural policies.

  The UK’s food production market is worth £26 billion per year,  which only accounts for a small part of the total £103 billion  attributed to the food industry as a whole.

  Projections from the farmers’ union suggest unless the government  take drastic action to reduce dependence on foreign food, the UK  will reach a “tipping point” within a quarter of a  century, after which over half of the nation’s food will have to  be imported.

  The problems facing British farmers have been exacerbated  recently, with the price of milk plummeting after a glut of dairy  products on international markets.

  The crash saw thousands of farmers threatened with losing their  livelihood, and painted a picture of the future in which Britain  imports its fresh milk.

  The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said it was  committed to energizing the market by opening up trade on to  international markets.

“We are helping the industry become more competitive, at home  and abroad, by opening up record numbers of international food  markets to export our produce, making it easier for our schools  and hospitals to buy local, helping consumers to choose UK  products through improved country-of-origin labeling, and  investing in cutting-edge technology such as GPS-guided  tractors.”

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