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Food Supply

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 151028, tabled on 31 March 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to safeguard food security.

Answered on

25 April 2022

The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain, as demonstrated throughout the Covid-19 response. Our high degree of food security is built on supply from diverse sources, strong domestic production as well as imports through stable trade routes. We produce 60% of all the food we need, and 74% of food which we can grow or rear in the UK for all or part of the year. These figures have changed little over the last 20 years.

Strong domestic food production is an important factor in our food security. The UK enjoys considerable self-sufficiency in food, with production to supply ratios of nearly 100 percent in poultry, carrots, and swedes, and we also produce 88% of all the cereals that we need. In addition, UK consumers have access through international trade to food products that cannot be produced here, or at least not on a year-round basis. This supplements domestic production and ensures that any disruption from risks such as adverse weather or disease does not affect the UK's overall security of supply. The Government is also supporting farmers in England to become more efficient and has recently awarded grants of £48.5 million through the Farming Equipment and Technology Fund, helping boost productivity at this critical time.

Recognising the importance of food production, the Government has set out a legal obligation on the Government to produce an assessment of our food security at least once every three years. The first UK Food Security Report was published in December 2021. It recognised the contribution made by British farmers to our resilience, and the importance of strong domestic production to our food security. This report will serve as an evidence base for future policy work.

In addition, the Government has recently announced a number of steps it is taking to support farmers ahead of the growing season. Farmers are facing rising costs in inputs, including manufactured fertiliser prices, which we know has an impact on the productivity and profit of farms in this country. The Government’s measures include new slurry guidance and new slurry storage grants, a delay in planned changes to urea usage, and further details of the early rollout of the Sustainable Farming Incentive and opening of more farming grants worth more than £20 million to support farming R&D and productivity. The Government will also continue to work with farmers and growers, including through a newly created fertiliser roundtable, to identify solutions and better understanding of current pressures on farmers.