Members of the National Farmers Union (NFU) and NFU Scotland came together with farming unions across the UK to celebrate ‘Back British Farming’ Day in Westminster on 13th September.
It was the eighth annual celebration of the farming industry’s impact on the British food sector. A breakfast reception kicked off the festivities at the House of Commons, where over 100 MPs were given a wheatsheaf pin badge to wear during Prime Minister’s Questions.
NFU president Minette Batters said: “Britain’s farmers and growers are truly inspirational, and it is heart-warming to know the public really value the work we do in producing fantastic homegrown food. This food underpins the British food and farming sector and is worth more than £100 billion to the national economy, all while protecting and enhancing our iconic landscapes.
“As these survey results show, the public really appreciate what Britain’s farmers and growers do day-in, day-out. 90% of the public feel farming is important to the UK economy while 81% agreed that British farms should grow as much food as they can to provide national food security.
“We really have some of the most forward-thinking, productive and innovative farmers and growers working across our sector. Despite the challenges being faced by everyone this year, we are still doing what we do best – producing great tasting British food. On this Back British Farming Day, we appreciate this public support more than ever and want to say a massive thank you to everyone.”
NFU Scotland has also shown its support for the #BuyBritishButton petition, stressing that supermarkets should add a ‘Buy Scottish’ or ‘Buy British’ tab on their websites in order to make buying local produce easy for online shoppers. In a letter to Scotland’s First Minister, Humza Yousaf MSP, the Union called for the Scottish Government to ensure the Good Food Nation (Scotland) Act delivers for Scottish agriculture and the wider food and drink sector through the commitment to a ‘Scottish First’ policy for local sourcing in the National Food Plan.
John Davidson, chief executive at NFU Scotland, said: “With food and drink production across the country contributing more than £100 billion to the national economy, it is fantastic to join in a celebration where both the public and politicians recognise and value the contribution of farmers and crofters.
“As part of today’s celebration, we very much welcome the petition led by NFU that seeks to stimulate more local sourcing by making it easier for the growing number of consumers who choose to do their grocery shopping online to buy local.”
Davidson added: “Our recent letter to the First Minister, where we asked for a ‘Scottish First’ policy to be adopted, builds on our long term asks where we want to collaborate more closely with retailers and those involved in public procurement in Scotland to further support our farmers, crofters, environment and, ultimately, our economy.”
Prioritise homegrown food
NFU president Minette Batters added: “The public backs our calls for Government to prioritise homegrown food production and legislate to ensure the UK’s self-sufficiency does not drop below its current level of 60%.
“We’ve had everything thrown at us over the past 18 months – soaring production costs, global market instability caused by the ongoing war in Ukraine, extreme bouts of weather and significant delays to farm payments. The empty shelves we’ve seen this year speak for themselves; we need to be producing more of our food here.
“Now is the time to ensure those policies are in place to support the production of quality, climate friendly, homegrown food. As we’ve said before, Government has statutory targets for the environment – why can’t food production have the same status?
“Fundamentally, investing in domestic food production means we can increase our productivity, create more jobs and deliver much more for the economy and for the environment.
“We know we have huge public support – we now just need our politicians to also back British farming like never before.”