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

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

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

“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.

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and maintain ‘high quality of life’ – UK govt

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

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