Take action now to avoid food shortage - NFU
NFU President Peter Kendall has used his New Year’s message to warn that the UK’s food gap is set to widen further unless the Government takes action to reverse the trend.
Setting out the Union’s priorities for 2011, Mr Kendall said the Government would need to lay foundations now to ensure the UK is primed to meet the future challenges of food security.
With the UK’s population set to grow to more than 70 million by 2030, consumers are likely to become more reliant than ever on imported food.
We currently import more than 40 per cent of our food - up from around 25 per cent twenty years ago - and by 2030 one in every two meals could be imported unless domestic production increases.
Mr Kendall said: “I’m not suggesting we need to take an isolationist approach to food production; we’re a trading nation and trade is also vital to our food security, it ensures variety, and is an opportunity for the industry too. But if we’re going to ensure food supplies for UK consumers it is in our national interest to produce more in the UK.
“What worries me is not the Government’s commitment to ensuring big picture, global food security, but its commitment to ensuring that localfood supply here at home is encouraged and enabled.
“A narrow localist agenda could pose a serious threat to the growth we need, whether from state-of-the-art polytunnels for soft-fruit production, high-output glasshouses for vegetables, or the latest in lower carbon, high welfare, pig and poultry units.
“Localism needs leadership otherwise it is nothing more than a recipe for Nimbyism. That is why it is absolutely crucial that the Government includes food production as a strategic priority in its new national planning framework. “
He said the industry was ready to play its part, and it was now up to Government to show willing.
He said: “Farmers are ready to rise to the challenge and invest in their businesses. Let 2011 be the year in which the Government takes its own commitment to increasing food production seriously and - instead of relying on imports to fill the food gap - puts in place a policy framework that will enable Britain’s producers to keep up with demand.”