We now have a ‘golden opportunity’ for Welsh and British farming to become a global leader in delivering food security and set the benchmark for sustainable food production around the world, according to NFU Cymru.
Today (21st August) marks the national date in the calendar that would see the UK larder run bare if it relied solely on UK produce from 1st January 2020. The nation’s self-sufficiency currently sits at 64% and has remained stagnant for a number of years.
John Davies, NFU Cymru President, said: “A nation must have the ability to feed itself and these figures show that Wales, and the wider UK, is falling short.
“For an island nation, being able to feed our population is absolutely critical. Even as a global trading nation, shocks such as the coronavirus will quickly expose the fragility of what are often long and complex supply chains.
“The entire economy is now aiming to build back better, to build back greener. Welsh and British farming can be central to that green recovery. We have a golden opportunity to place food security at the centre of our food system and become a global leader in sustainable food production.
“We have the capacity to do much more. We cannot let our self-sufficiency slip further. The UK and Welsh Governments have a crucial role to play in this. Food security should be placed at the heart of wider government policies and there needs to be an annual reporting system to ensure we do not allow our domestic food production to diminish.
“NFU Cymru is ambitious for the future of our food and drinks industry and Welsh Government now has the chance, as it works towards the co-design of future farming support, to put food production and food security front and centre of the political agenda, and Welsh and British farmers are up for the challenge of feeding an ever growing population.
“The Welsh farming industry is a strategically important one, producing the raw ingredients for a Welsh food and drink sector with a turnover of £7.47billion, and a food and drink supply chain employing 217, 000 people – Wales biggest employer. Therefore maintaining viable, productive farms is the most effective way to ensure that we continue to protect and enhance our environment and landscape, in order for our rural communities, language and culture to thrive and prosper, and continue to sustainably grow the food and drink industry in Wales.
“It is crucial there is investment in agriculture as part of our green recovery in order to increase our food security, level up rural economic growth, drive green job opportunities, stimulate demand for rural tourism and help deliver NFU Cymru and the NFU’s ambition for Welsh and British farming to be net zero by 2040.”