North East farmers are backing a campaign urging the public to eat more home-produced food.
A team from Northumberland turned out in force at the Angel of the North, in Gateshead, to get behind the National Farmers’ Union’s (NFU) Back British Farming charter.
The group representing livestock, arable, dairy and poultry producers in the region met to highlight the charter and encourage people to support it.
Launched in August, after statistics showed the UK produces just 62% of its own food, the charter calls on the public, politicians, retailers and the food industry to pull together and help Britain produce, source and consume more home-produced food.
It comes on the back of research showing that 78% of consumers want to see more British produce on sale.
As part of this self-sufficiency drive, the charter is now touring the country on a mobile campaign vehicle.
David Robson, the NFU’s Northumberland county chairman, who farms near Morpeth, said: “Our Back British Farming campaign highlights the fact that if all the food produced in Britain was stored and eaten from January 1, supplies would run out on August 14.
“This is a stark statistic and something that as a nation we should be concerned about. We currently import more than £37b of food and drink – much of which we could produce ourselves – and as farmers we stand ready to rise to the challenge of feeding the nation.
“As an industry we have had a challenging decade but it’s becoming increasingly clear that our country cannot depend on a strategy that consists of going round the world chasing the cheapest deal for our food.
“Here at home we have a fantastic resource and ability to produce more food, and we know the public want to see more British produce in the shops.
“To rise to this challenge farmers need the right market signals to enable us to invest for the future. With this campaign we are looking to really galvanise support and get the Government, retailers, food industry and the public all pulling together.
“Here in the North East people are rightly proud of our wealth of fantastic produce and regional specialities. I hope the public will take this opportunity to show their support and sign the charter.”
Among those who have signed the document is Martyn Jones, corporate services director of Morrisons supermarkets.
He said: “We have always been a supporter of UK agriculture and buy a bigger proportion of the food that we sell from British farmers than any other major supermarket.”
The document can be signed online at www.nfuonline.com .