A former MI5 Director General has said that home grown, UK food production is 'integral' to the country's national security.
The Baroness Manningham-Buller made the comments during the annual NFU Henry Plumb Memorial Lecture, which took place on Monday (28 November).
She said this was particularly true during the current time of international crisis, with conflicts such as the war in Ukraine putting pressure on energy security and global food supply.
The Baroness called on the government to be "consistent in planning for our food supply as it is a part of the UK’s national infrastructure".
Speaking at the event, she said: “I believe that food is part of our critical national security, including the essential workers that grow it and harvest it, the farmers that produce our crops, meat, vegetables, fruit and even wine."
At this evening’s Henry Plumb Memorial Lecture, Baroness Manningham-Buller, former Director General of MI5, reinforced that “food is integral to our national security”. pic.twitter.com/pWN0WzaHVg— National Farmers' Union (@NFUtweets) November 28, 2022
The former MI5 chief warned that farmers across the UK were under "immense pressure" due to high fertiliser prices, soaring energy costs, shortages of farm workers and apprehension about trade deals.
“Unless we pay serious and thorough attention to our food security, we risk being increasingly subject to global shocks," the Baroness added.
"We need to acknowledge that we should produce as much of our own food as possible and to be able to export what we can, both for growth in the UK economy and to help feed the world.”
The event was the fifth Henry Plumb Lecture and was called the Henry Plumb Memorial Lecture this year following the death of Lord Plumb, who was was NFU President from 1970 to 1978, in April 2022.
NFU President Minette Batters welcomed the comments by the Baroness: “I was pleased to hear what the NFU has been highlighting for a number of years; that we must take British food security more seriously.
"We need our government to honour the commitments made by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to set a target for our nation’s food security, with a statutory duty to report on domestic food levels.”