A FORMER Director General of MI5 has told farming delegates home-grown food production is part of the UK’s ‘critical national security’.
Baroness Manningham-Buller LG DCB made the comments as she gave the NFU’s 2022 Henry Plumb Memorial Lecture.
In the current time of international crisis, with conflicts such as the war in Ukraine putting pressure on energy security and global food supply, she said the Government needs to be consistent in planning for our food supply, as it is a part of the UK’s national infrastructure.
“I believe that food is part of our critical national security, including the essential workers that grow it and harvest it, the farmers that produce our crops, meat, vegetables, fruit and even wine,” she said.
“British farmers are under immense pressure. The doubling of fertiliser prices, soaring energy costs, shortages of seasonal workers and apprehension about trade deals are all impacting the farmers that produce our food and we urgently need policy to address this.
“Unless we pay serious and thorough attention to our food security, we risk being increasingly subject to global shocks.
“We need to acknowledge that we should produce as much of our own food as possible and to be able to export what we can, both for growth in the UK economy and to help feed the world.”
NFU President, Minette Batters, said: “It was an honour to have The Baroness Manningham-Buller speak at the NFU’s Henry Plumb Memorial Lecture. Lord Plumb was a remarkable man, and it was fitting to have such a prominent speaker give a lecture in his name.
“I was pleased to hear The Baroness say what the NFU has been highlighting for a number of years; that we must take British food security more seriously, particularly in a time when global volatility is threatening the stability of the world’s food production, food security and energy security.
“As British farmers we produce both climate-friendly food and renewable energy and we want to deliver more. For this to happen, we need our government to honour the commitments made by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to set a target for our nation’s food security, with a statutory duty to report on domestic food levels.”
MP Sir Robert Goodwill, chair of the parliamentary Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, said: “I welcome Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller’s contribution to the debate on food security.
“She is right to highlight the links between food security and national security, particularly in these extremely worrying times of war in Europe, high food inflation and relentless pressures on our farmers and food producers.
“The committee’s investigation into this topic is still ongoing and we will be hearing from a Defra minister in the new year.”