THE BLOG
24/02/2015 05:38 GMT | Updated 25/04/2015 06:59 BST

Where Is British Food in the Election Debate?

The next few months will see the closest fought election in a generation. Already the economy, welfare, health and education have been occupying headline space as some of the most important issues which affect people and therefore their vote. But where is food in this debate? More importantly, where is safe, secure, traceable British food?

This will be one of the key questions I will ask of all of the main political parties when they attend the NFU Conference, starting today.

British food isn't just an important issue for farmers and growers; more and more people are interested in where their food comes from. YouGov data has revealed that 85% of people want British supermarkets to sell more food produced on British farms. So, the people want it, farmers can produce it, what is the issue?

I can tell you; it is the dramatic downward slide in this country's self-sufficiency in food. Self-sufficiency is a really important yardstick for measuring how competitive we are and how much we produce. It doesn't mean limiting or reducing export; it means capitalising of what we are already good at and what we can do more of in this country.

But at just 60% self-sufficient today, it means we currently we grow and rear enough British food to feed the nation from 1 January until 7 August. And the NFU is forecasting an alarming downward trend, reaching lows of around 53% in just 25 year's time. Why should this concern us? We can simply import our food needs, right? Wrong.

The past decade has shown us that poor global harvests, civil unrest and extreme weather all impact on the world's food production. Countries close their borders to exports and suddenly plentiful imports are gone. But it is much more than that. The horsemeat scandal just two years ago was a wake-up call for us all. It reminded people that food which can be traced back to farms near home was a really good thing.

I think there is a stark choice ahead for the next government and no better time for the British people to make their voices heard.

A booming population over the next 20 years means there will be around 13 million extra mouths to feed in the UK. Where will that food come from? Can you afford to trust the nation's food security to volatile world markets or should you chose to Back British Farming and reverse the worrying trend in food production.

I know what I want to happen. My challenge to government is this: Ensure you have a robust plan for increasing the productive potential of farming, stimulating investment and ensuring that the drive to increase British food production. And ensure this is at the heart of every government department.

To everyone else, I say make your voice heard. Cast your vote in support of British food at www.votebritishfood.com

#BackBritishFarming

#NFU15