The NFU has called on the government to support increasing self-sufficiency in UK food production as Back British Farming Day gets underway today.
Now in its eighth year, the initiative puts a spotlight on the importance of British farming, such as providing food for the nation, its environmental efforts and its contribution to the economy.
The event, which gets underway today (13 September), will see MPs wearing a wheatsheaf pin badge to show their support for farmers.
The prime minister, leader of the opposition and senior politicians usually wear the badge, now an emblem of the day, during debates and at Prime Minister’s Questions.
It follows a tough year for the industry – soaring production costs, global market instability caused by the ongoing war in Ukraine, extreme bouts of weather and significant delays to farm payments.
The NFU has released a survey showing that the public appreciate what Britain’s farmers and growers do, with 90% saying that farming was important to the UK economy.
And most people (81%) agreed that British farms should grow as much food as they can to provide national food security.
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.
“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.”
Today’s celebrations start in Westminster with a breakfast reception at the House of Commons.
More than 100 MPs are expected to attend, where they will be given a wheatsheaf pin badge, now an emblem of the day, to wear during Prime Minister’s Questions to show their support.
MPs will also hear that, according to a recent NFU survey, 87% of respondents support increasing self-sufficiency in UK food production.
Mrs Batters said this was 'a clear message 'that the public backed the union's calls for government to prioritise homegrown food production.
She said the government should pass legislate to ensure the UK’s self-sufficiency does not drop below its current level of 60%.
"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."
The NFU president added: "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.”
Responding to Back British Farming Day, Defra Secretary Thérèse Coffey has backed calls for industry-led action to signpost customers to ‘buy British’ when they shop online.
She said the department would also support campaigns to "endorse the taste and quality of home-grown meat and dairy products".
Ms Coffey said: "This government will always back British farmers who produce some of the highest quality food in the world, contribute billions to our economy, and are the custodians of our countryside."