Prime Minister Rishi Sunak unveiled the first Food Security Index at the 2024 Farm to Fork Summit.

The second Farm to Fork Summit was held at 10 Downing Street, with PM Rishi Sunak announcing the publication of the UK’s first Food Security Index.

The index aims to assess the state of UK food security from 2023 to 2024, and is led by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) working with devolved administrations.

It looks at different indicators across a range of areas to ensure that food security is not “reduced to a single metric or theme”.

Sir Robert Goodwill, chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) Committee said: “We are pleased that today’s Summit sees the publication of the first UK Food Security Index, as my committee pushed for in its report.

“We urge Government to keep its commitment to enshrine the requirement to publish the Index in law and to do so at the earliest opportunity.”

Announced at the Summit was the Horticulture Resilience and Growth offer, which Government stated would “double funding for horticulture businesses”. As well as this, it was announced that there would be funding to improve the health of laying hens and support for farmers to “get a fair price” for their products by laying new regulations in Parliament for eggs, fresh produce and pigs.

Goodwill said: “The farming sector works tirelessly to feed the nation and protect its natural environment, and I wholeheartedly welcome the PM’s commitment to backing our British farmers. It is vital that farmers and agricultural industries are provided with the support they need to thrive, against the difficult conditions they are facing.

“We also welcome the announcement of a new supply chain adjudicator, and we look forward to hearing how they will work with the Groceries Code Adjudicator to ensure greater fairness and transparency throughout the whole food supply chain.”

Chair of the EFRA Committee, Sir Robert Goodwill MP has welcomed the Index’s publication. | Photo: UK Parliament.

NFU calls for short-term action

President of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) Tom Bradshaw welcomed the announcements, but stressed the need for immediate support to help the sector and rebuild “much-needed confidence and resilience”.

Bradshaw said: “We are pleased that the Government has taken on board our calls for a bigger and more accessible replacement for the EU Fruit and Veg Aid Scheme, and a commitment to legislate to improve contractual relationships.

“The NFU’s recent confidence survey revealed just how tough it is out there currently – the reality is that some farmers and growers believe they may not survive long enough to benefit from today’s announcements.”

He continued: “That’s why, while we are pleased to see the Prime Minister and Defra saying UK food security is vital to our national security, we need actions in the short-term that underpin that statement, in order to rebuild confidence and resilience so farming businesses can continue producing food.

“We will continue to engage with Ministers on the detail needed for the immediate relief our farm businesses require and believe that core standards for food imports also need to be part of the long-term offer.”