Monday, 23 February 2015

"Little over half of our food needs will be produced here at home within 25 years."

There have been several questions of late posed around the food system in the UK:
Futures Forum: The failure of the UK food system
Futures Forum: Taking control of the food chain

These issues affect the use of land in East Devon:


23rd February 2015
Interestingly, one point not mentioned by the National Farmers Union is the amount of Grade 1 agricultural land lost to speculative building which leads to the land being worth up to £1 million per acre when planning permission is received – especially in areas such as ours where we have no Local Plan and no 6-year land supply. And where quite a few farmers are parish, town and/or district councillors (and even, in the past, running a plannung consultancy) and are sometimes developers themselves.
UK Food Security | East Devon Watch

The Western Morning News reports on the story:

WMN OPINION: Why UK cannot be blasé about food security in an unstable world

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 23, 2015
WMN OPINION:  Why UK cannot be blasé about food security in an unstable world
Britain needs to produce more of its own food says NFU

It’s easy to be blasé about food security in times of relative stability. And for 70 years now, since the end of the Second World War, we have lived in times of relative stability. There have been scares, threats and trouble elsewhere in the world but little to put at risk the trade that ensures Britain can import the food it needs to bolster home-grown supplies. Over that time we have seen peaks and we have seen troughs in home-produced supplies.

The most recent peak, in 1991, saw British farmers provide the nation with three quarters of its food needs. Not perfect – but not bad – especially given our inability, mainly because of climate, to grow some foods here and our taste for the imported and the exotic.

In the almost 25 years since, however, that percentage of home grown food has plummeted, reaching just 60% today. And, as the National Farmers’ Union warns on the eve of its annual conference in Birmingham, it is predicted to get worse, with little over half of our food needs being produced here at home within another 25 years. That is alarming – but it also represents an opportunity.

Britain is one of the most innovative and efficient food producers in the world. While some of our farm businesses may have slipped down global rankings in recent decades – as reported to the Oxford Farming Conference last month – overall we have been leaders in the field of increasing output while maintaining quality, safety and welfare standards on our farms. That is not something you can say about every food-producing nation.

And there is another reason for bolstering the volume of food that we grow, rear and process here at home. Stability cannot be taken for granted and nor can the easy access to imports that go with it. As an island nation Britain was at risk of being starved into defeat at the beginning of two World Wars. Only through desperate measures, turning all available land and available labour to food production, did we succeed in keeping the nation fed. The fear created, particularly by the threat to trade in the Second World War, led to some landscape changes and practices that would not be acceptable today. But today we have the knowledge and technology to boost production much more sustainably. As the General Election approaches, it is time for all major parties to pledge themselves to boosting UK food output, for the benefit of our farmers – and the population as a whole.

WMN OPINION: Why UK cannot be blasé about food security in an unstable world | Western Morning News

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