The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) says a national food strategy must play a pivotal role in supporting British farming’s ability to improve productivity, sustainability and support the nation’s health.

The NFU has been gathering views from its members to form part of its response to a call for evidence from Henry Dimbleby, the businessman appointed by government to start developing the UK’s new food policy.

NFU president Minette Batters outlined why: “This review is long overdue, and government must take domestic farming and food production seriously as it puts plans in place for a national strategy. British farmers are critical to our food system and deliver safe, traceable and affordable food for the nation.

“A failure to adopt a meaningful long-term food strategy risks our position as a world leader in affordability, safety and consumer choice, and risks a decline in our capacity to produce sustainable food as a nation.

“We need a food policy that delivers for everyone – from food producers to families across the country, whatever their income. Safe, traceable and affordable food that is produced to high standards of animal welfare and environmental protection is a right for all of us and it makes absolute sense that British farmers are the number one supplier of this.

“Alongside producing food, the strategy must support our farmers to continue to protect and maintain our iconic British countryside; enhance landscapes, benefit soils, water, and air quality, encourage wildlife, and help tackle climate change, by supporting the NFU’s ambition for the industry to become net-zero by 2040.

“It’s important too that this strategy ensures the UK is operating a fair and equitable food supply chain, with a functioning market for producers, food businesses and consumers, in which farmers and growers are treated as equal partners and protected against unfair trading practices.

“The strategy must support British food values and government can show this first and foremost in its public procurement across all areas from schools, to hospitals and in our wonderful armed forces.

“And with a no-deal Brexit still a conceivable threat, government, through this national food policy, has to ensure that British farming standards are not undercut by an ambition to open up British markets to food which would be illegal to produce here.

“British food is among the best, safest and most affordable in the world and UK farming plays a crucial role in providing the raw ingredients that form the backbone of our largest manufacturing industry, food and drink, which is worth more than £120 billion to the national economy and supports jobs for almost four million people.

“This is an amazing opportunity to take an interest and show our pride in our food industry and create a food system that delivers for all.”