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Government policies could impact food security

Tractor in the field

High environmental standards mean UK farmers have fewer crop protection choices.

13 January 2020

The tightening of EU regulation has halved the number of approved active agrochemical ingredients available to UK farmers. Speaking at the British Crop Production Council Congress 2019, Guy Smith deputy president of the National Farmers Union (NFU) commented that 20 to 30 years ago the UK produced 80% of its own food requirements, today that figure has fallen to around 60%.

The shortfall is likely to be made up in imports from countries, including the EU, that have access to agrochemicals banned in the UK, or perhaps have poorer environmental protection regulation.

The NFU called on politicians to be aware of how policies relating to food and environmental safety impacted the UK’s food security. ‘The easiest way for UK farmers to meet carbon zero targets would be to stop farming, but a consequence would be to import more food from e.g. South America, where climate change is lower on the agenda.’ Smith said.

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