14 August 2017

Food security has to be a Brexit priority

The National Farmers’ Union is correct that “the two main responsibilities of any government are to defend its people and feed its people” (Brexit could leave Britain with a bare larder, farmers warn, 5 August). Recent history, notably the 2007-08 world food price crisis, shows that cheap food imports cannot be guaranteed. Further, the consequences of climate change and a rapidly growing population on the global food supply are unknown.

We rely heavily on other EU member states for food. Defra statistics show that in 2016 70% of all UK food, drink and animal feed imports were from the EU. If no trade deal is arranged, we will revert to WTO rules and risk a dramatic increase in the cost of food, both as a result of tariffs on imports and a weaker pound. Currently, only 15% of fruit and 55% of vegetables eaten in the UK are grown here. Without a robust domestic farming strategy, rising prices mean the healthy food that families need will become less accessible.