Self-sufficiency should be Defra priority

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Benn must make UK food self-sufficiency a priority
A letter from Sir Anthony Bamford is published in the Financial Times.

“As a farmer and the only remaining British manufacturer of tractors, I am compelled to respond to recent comments by Hilary Benn, environment secretary, on national food self-sufficiency. Since the government came to power in 1997, our food self-sufficiency has declined to 60 per cent. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, however, believes 60 per cent self-sufficiency is high enough. Meanwhile, billions of unnecessary “food miles” clock up as we import indigenous foods such as potatoes, apples and sugar, causing congestion, road infrastructure costs, pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Since the Ministry of Agriculture became Defra, a strong support of farming has shifted to a woolly focus on “rural affairs”, and lack of interest in food self-sufficiency is further evidence of this. The department should remember that the agri-food sector accounts for 6.9 per cent of the total economy and provides 3.6m jobs which, incidentally, is more than four times as many as the car industry in the UK. And it could generate more, should Defra do its job.

Mr Benn should immediately announce clear actions that support our farmers in boosting production, and make 100 per cent indigenous food self-sufficiency a priority.”

Financial Times (22 Jan, p.10)

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2 Responses to “Self-sufficiency should be Defra priority”

  1. mrs dirty boots Says:

    couldn’t agree more – the first thing any country should be doing is trying to be self reliant – the uk has fabulous soil with a climate and technology making sustainable food production possible so why on earth aren’t the government promoting it?

    ps – i like your blog – just found it on a google alert

  2. Ottovbvs Says:

    Clearly there’s nothing wrong with British agriculture seeking to maximise its share of the domestic market but this does smack a little of protectionism.

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