A GROWTH plan for the farming industry is needed to halt the massive decline in home-grown food production, the NFU has said.
If all the food produced in the UK in a year was stored on January 1, supplies would run out today and shoppers would have to rely on imports to get them through the rest of the year, the union has calculated.
Currently the West Midlands and the rest of the UK is just 60 per cent self-sufficient, a fall of more than 15 per cent since 1991. This is despite regional farmers working to produce more with less impact, using the latest science and technology.
The NFU has called for a growth plan plan for agriculture as part of its Back British Farming campaign to help halt the decline and drive investment.
John Mercer, NFU West Midlands regional director, said: “There has to be some imported produce as we operate in a global market and shoppers want choice, but it is ironic and worrying that our food production levels are falling, despite the many technological advances that farming is making.
“Here in the region our farmers are passionate about what they do; they produce the food we eat, care for the countryside and our livestock and crops. As a result farming is a success story: farming and the food industry, nationally, contributes £97 billion to the UK economy and we want to see an upturn in our use of home-grown.
“Agriculture and horticulture is the only industry that has seen growth during the recession with farming output rising from £16 billion in 2007 to £25.7 billion in 2013. Our farmers are ready, willing and able to produce great tasting food for shoppers and more food produced at home means more jobs and more value for the UK economy.
“The NFU wants farming to be at the heart of decision-making across the wider food industry and Government, to allow for more food to be both produced and consumed here, in the UK. If we have the right conditions, legislation and culture to allow farming and horticulture to blossom, then we can begin to close the gap and reverse the decline.”