Tuesday, 2 September 2014

British food self sufficiency

A British harvest scene
Following on from my last blog concerning a report on the public’s thoughts about agriculture, I keep mulling over one particular line that sprang out and hit me squarely between the eyes!

 “There is an ingrained perception that the UK could easily grow all its own food”.

In reality, if Britain relied solely on home-grown produce, we would run out of food by the 7th of August – so by now you would most certainly not be reading this, but instead, be out foraging along the hedgerows with everyone else, simply trying to stay alive. Quite a sobering thought.

The latest statistics show that we are now only about 60% self-sufficient and yet in 1991 we were about 75% self-sufficient. I find that an alarming statistic. I think that we all have an inbuilt faith that science and technology are merrily pushing these things along in an upward direction on our behalf, when in fact they are not doing anything of the sort.

For instance wheat yields have plateaued during the last decade and huge numbers of dairy farmers have gone out of milk, unable to cope with the tiny margins on offer. Lamb producers have faced massive competition from cheap foreign imports (which often do not have our stringent animal welfare conditions in place) and any vegetable grower will tell you that many supermarkets will buy from elsewhere at the drop of a hat, if there is a quick buck to be made.

I could go on and on.

We need to buy British and back our farmers if we want them to survive, grow and once again increase our percentage of self-sufficiency. We also desperately need Government to invest in future technology – it has been pitiful to watch the demise of so many research stations across the country, which under-pinned so much of the past growth that was achieved. 

But let’s not just blame the politicians - we can all play our part. It is a fat lot of good if 98% of us SAY that Britain needs a thriving farming industry, but then 45% of us go off to do the shopping and never pay any attention to where our food actually comes from.

So, ask yourself this question: In what appears to be an increasingly unstable world – are you content that we run out of home produced food in this country on the 7th of August?  If not, then we had all better do something about it.


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