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NFU report shows farming weathers recession to deliver for the nation’s economy

By Cheadle Post and Times  |  Posted: February 25, 2014

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Farming is delivering for the nation’s economy and bucking the trend as one of the few success stories during the recession, a new NFU report has revealed today (Tuesday).

Published on day one of the NFU annual conference, ‘Backing the Business of British Farming’ demonstrates how UK agriculture has proved remarkably resilient as an industry and highlights some of the many success stories in the food and farming sectors.

The report reveals that:

· Over the past five years UK agriculture’s contribution to the economy increased by a staggering 54 per cent between 2007 and 2012.

· Agriculture contributed an additional £8.6bn more to the UK economy between 2008 and 2012 than it did in the 2003-2007 five-year period in GVA terms.

· Food and drink is now the UK’s fourth largest exporting sector – exports in the first half of 2013 grew by 2.5 per cent to £6.12bn compared to £5.97bn in the first half of 2012.

It is calling on Government to put agriculture at its heart and set its economic policies through the food security lens. The report is backed up by a new consumer survey that shows 88 per cent of people believe it is important that the Government should have a strategy to ensure a secure and affordable supply of British food.

More details of the report will be unveiled during NFU President Peter Kendall’s opening speech.

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.”

“All of us have worked hard to get food production and security firmly back on the agenda. It’s encouraging that a new YouGov survey shows that 88 per cent of people think it is important that the Government should have a strategy to ensure a secure and affordable supply of British food. And we have heard Defra ministers recently highlight that 24 per cent of the food eaten in the UK is imported when it could be produced here.

“My message is that farmers have a vital role in ensuring a safe, traceable and high quality domestic food supply, and the collective importance of food and farming to the UK economy must not be underestimated. This is why it’s so important that politicians and retailers continue to back the business of British farming.”

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