- Yesterday saw the UK celebrating its fifth annual Back British Farming Day, a day which has gained even more significance with Brexit less than six months away.
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Back British Farming Day was first commemorated in 2013, as an attempt to increase public awareness about Britain’s agricultural self-sufficiency. It first took place the 14th of August as that would be the day the UK’s cupboards would go empty if it was expected to be completely self-sufficient as of January 1, according to the National Farmer’s Union. The UK’s self-sufficiency was down at 62% from the 75% it was in 1991. Then-president of the NFU, Meurig Raymond, said the day was an opportunity for the British public, government, and retailers to reflect on the role British farmers play and supporting them by buying British.
Since, the UK’s self-sufficiency has not changed much. With Brexit in the rear-view window, the urgency of the situation has increased and has come more firmly into the public eye. Yesterday was not only Back British Farming Day, but was also the day the Agriculture Bill, post-Brexit agricultural plan, was presented to Parliament. It was the day that the NFU sent its food report UK: A Nation United By Food, an analysis about the state of the British food production scheme and where it needs to grow, to MPs all across the country. Throughout the week, the Palace of Westminster has committed to serving 9,000 “Back British Farming” meals in their restaurants, with produce that can be traced straight back to the UK and table talkers that encourage diners to think about the provenance of their food.
During the Prime Minister’s Questions, 140 MPs were seen wearing Back British Farming pins made from British wheat and wool, as the NFU has been encouraging. According to NFU president Minette Batters: “Back British Farming Day is a great opportunity to celebrate the unique role farmers play in feeding the nation and caring for the countryside. By wearing the wheat-pin badge, politicians are not only showing their support for British food and farming but acknowledging that they have a part to play in shaping the future of domestic agriculture and food production.”
While increased government support and new government schemes that support farmers are all good omens, it is important that the endorsement continue throughout the year, following through post-Brexit, following through in the coming years. According to NFU research, August 7th of 2019 would be the day the UK runs out of food if expected to be completely self-sufficient.
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12 September 2018The introduction of the new Agriculture Bill presents a post-Brexit plan for a cleaner, more environmentally-conscious Britain that focuses on providing for its farmers.