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UK Farmers Enjoy Boom as Economy Suffers

21 May 2012, at 8:55am

UK - If there's one green shoot that continues to grow and has the potential to help kick-start Britain’s economic recovery then it's farming, according to the National Farmers Union (NFU).

As the western world battles with economic uncertainty, politicians wrestle with a continuing crisis in the Eurozone and families at home struggle with austerity on a scale not seen in a generation, a new report published from the NFU has revealed not only is farming leading the way, increasing its GVA by a quarter, it also provides the foundation stone for Britain’s food and drink industry.

Key findings in the report include:

  • £1.75 billion: The growth recorded by farming’s GVA in 2011
  • Farming’s GVA totals £8.84 billion – or has seen an increase of 25 per cent last year
  • Food and drink has become the UK’s fourth largest exporting sector.

NFU President Peter Kendall launched the report on Monday 21 May, having witnessed the huge change in farming’s fortunes in the past decade.

“I don’t want to dwell on the past; today is about celebrating all that farmers and growers deliver to this country and its people every day,” said Mr Kendall. “But I do want to acknowledge what a tremendous turn around we have seen, certainly in the past ten years. The NFU has re-stated and, over time, re-established the case for our productive farming industry. No-one now seriously doubts the need for this country to have an efficient, productive, environmentally-conscious British farming sector, or the value that it, and we as farmers and growers, can deliver on all fronts.

“As this report details, farming is now expected to deliver and not just on fresh, quality, affordable food but also in providing cleaner, green energy and exciting and dynamic careers for our young people, while not forgetting the other staples of British farming; world-leading standards of animal welfare and environmental enhancement and protection.

“So, what are we campaigning for? I’m not asking for any special treatment. Today is about showcasing what farming delivers for Britain. And we want to continue building on today’s good news story by working with Government to replace, what can be, piecemeal and contradictory approaches to food and farming, to ensure there are policies in place that sees the UK becoming more self-sufficient; protecting its own food supply and building on today’s economic success story for the future prosperity and well-being of this country.

“For consumers I say this. Britain’s self-sufficiency in food has dropped by 15 per cent in the past 20 years but I know everyone can do their bit by enjoying a more seasonal diet and eating more British food when it’s at its best. Buying more local food also helps to make a big difference to the communities closest to us. So, our message is simple; ask for British food. Make it British, make it local and make it happen.”

Speaking about the new campaign, Defra farming minister Jim Paice, said: "Farming is no longer the quaint old industry which has served Britain well in the past but is doing so much more today,” he said. “Now farmers are using techniques and technology we couldn’t have dreamed of 50 years ago and in this new rapidly-growing global food market they face huge opportunities to deliver real wealth for our economy.

“Government and industry have got to work together to build on the strengths show-cased today, to see farming become as efficient and forward-looking as possible so it can meet the huge food production challenge ahead.”

Further Reading

You can view the full report by clicking here.