Westminster ‘Back British Farming’ Day celebrated by NFU
The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and NFU Scotland joined farming unions from across the UK at ‘Back British Farming’ Day in Westminster on 13th September, the eighth annual celebration of the farming industry’s role in producing British food and drink.
The celebrations started in Westminster with a breakfast reception at the House of Commons. More than 100 MPs were given a wheatsheaf pin badge, now an emblem of the day, to wear during PM’s Questions to show their support.
NFU Scotland’s delegation of chief executive John Davidson and director of policy Jonnie Hall also met with MPs from all parties as they thanked the public for their overwhelming support and recognition of the role the industry plays in feeding the nation and caring for the environment.
The Union said that it believes support and investment in farmers and crofters is “critical to ensure our food security, promote a prosperous economy, respond to the climate challenge and help biodiversity recover and flourish.”
It is also looking to the UK Government to progress the backing provided to the industry by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak MP at his inaugural ‘Farm to Fork’ summit in Downing Street in May, attended by NFU Scotland president Martin Kennedy, where food security concerns were seen as a priority.
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.”
Following a survey, NFU concluded that the British public viewed farming as one of the most important and well-respected professions, second only to nursing. Additionally, 87% of respondents support increasing self-sufficiency in UK food production.
“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.”
“We really have some of the most forward-thinking, productive and innovative farmers and growers working across our sector.”Minette Batters, NFU president.
The #BuyBritishButton petition
The Scottish branch of the Union is supporting NFU’s #BuyBritishButton petition, calling on those supermarkets with online food and drink shopping to add a ‘Buy Scottish’ and/or a ‘Buy British’ tab on their websites. This will it make it easier for consumers to choose homegrown produce when doing an online grocery shop, NFU Scotland said.
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.”
“It is fantastic to join in a celebration where both the public and politicians recognise and value the contribution of farmers and crofters.”John Davidson, chief executive of NFU Scotland.
In a recent letter to Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf MSP, NFU Scotland called on 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 forthcoming National Food Plan. Retailer support in Scotland for an online ‘Scottish’ button for Scottish produce would build on that and help grow sales of local produce.
John Davidson of NFU 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.”
This comes as the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) announced that it will be using the term ‘British’ in its marketing campaign for the first time.