Farming is perfectly placed to drive vital economic growth having proven its resilience through recession and dire weather events, according to an industry report published today.
Agriculture’s contribution to the UK economy has increased by 54 per cent in five years and has injected an extra £8.6bn into the economy compared to the previous five years, the ‘Backing the Business of British Farming’ report by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) claims.
Released on the first day of the NFU’s annual conference in Birmingham, the report highlights that food and drink is now the UK’s fourth largest exporting sector, with exports in the first half of 2013 growing by 2.5 per cent to £6.12bn.
Peter Kendall, the NFU’s president, is calling on the Government to put agriculture at its heart and set its economic policies through the food security lens.
Mr Kendall said: “The achievements shown in this report prove that farming has been delivering for Britain’s economy despite the challenges thrown at us over the past couple of years – heavy rain, drought, unseasonable snow and in recent weeks, we have all seen the impacts of flooding across the country and the challenges farmers have faced and sought to understand the impacts on our food supplies.
“We as an industry produce the raw materials for the biggest manufacturing sector in the economy, so trying to get people to understand our contribution to the whole economy is absolutely vital. We are growing businesses. We are creating jobs. If the Government is looking for a sector to kick-start growth and rebalance the economy then they should start by looking at agriculture. I believe any long-term economic plan for growth in the UK must include a long-term and strategic food plan.”
Farming Minister George Eustice is due to address industry delegates at the NFU conference today, with flooding expected to be a key focus of his speech.