How much food should we produce in the UK and how much should we import?

19 September 2016

As far as I can tell the last time the House of Commons discussed agriculture, without having to do so in the context of the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) of the European Union, would have been some time circa 1970.

This is set to change. Over the next two years the House of Commons, along with the farming community, the food industry and consumers, will need to debate and decide how, on leaving the EU, we will order food production and farming in the UK. What we decide will have a profound impact on the look of our rural landscape, where our food comes from and how many UK jobs result. Food and drink, including farming, is worth a £108 billion to our economy, so we better not mess it up, the stakes are high.

To work out what our new domestic agriculture policy should look like we have some major questions to answer, for example: 

How much food should we produce in the UK and how much should we import? Currently we produce around 54% of our needs. We could produce more but to do so we would need to intensify production, which can have unwanted environmental impacts. However, if we were to produce more of our own food we would have shorter supply chains, something that is usually good for the environment.

 

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