The first Farm to Fork Summit held at Number 10 Downing Street yesterday (Tuesday) has been welcomed by the National Farmers Union (NFU).

The union has said it saw a positive outlook for UK food security and demonstrates that domestic self-sufficiency is back on the political agenda.

At the very first food summit of its kind, the NFU asked the Prime Minister to convene the supply chain together to discuss the measures needed to build resilience and transparency from farm to fork and strengthen productivity.

Ahead of the summit, the Government confirmed measures intended to help strengthen the resilience and sustainability of the sector and provide greater stability to farmers in a time of ever-increasing costs.

The Government has committed to protecting the UK’s food and welfare standards while it increases trade and export opportunities through funding events and personnel.  

It announced a new £1 million programme to be designed to help smaller dairy businesses export to the Asia Pacific region.

Funding is also being directed to innovation such as precision breeding technologies.

It also announced that it would introduce additional reviews into fairness in the horticulture and egg supply chains.

Further support was confirmed for horticulture by the pledge to replace the retained EU Fruit and Vegetable Producer Organisation Scheme when it closes in 2026 with an expanded offer as part of our new farming payment schemes.

The Government also confirmed that 45,000 visas will be available to the horticulture sector for pickers next year.

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It also says that there are plans to cut the red tape for farmers keen to diversify, such as repurposing farm buildings to use as shops.

There are also plans to increase water security by speeding up work on water supply infrastructure.

NFU President Minette Batters said: “The announcements made today show a recognition and an understanding of the strategic importance of British food and farming to the nation. And the actions recognise the importance of coordinated action across government to support confidence, investment and growth in British food."

A former food tsar, Henry Dimbleby, who was appointed to Defra in 2018, said that while there was not much new in the Prime Minister’s announcement, Rishi Sunak seemed to be saying “the grown-ups are back in the room and although we had a wobble farmers, please trust us that there is a future for you”.

Mr Dimbleby said that Mr Sunak is “getting the train back on the tracks” with his pledge to protect farmers after a previous food production scheme was “blown up” by his predecessor Liz Truss.

He told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4: “I think what he’s doing is getting the train back on the track.

“So, there was a quite complicated, hugely ambitious programme to move our farming to produce not only food but restore biodiversities … then it was comprehensively blown up by Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.

Liz Truss did a trade deal with Australia which broke the manifesto commitment to protect UK standards. As Prime Minister, she rebranded Defra as a growth department, recently they scrapped the horticulture strategy and they restricted, completely unnecessarily, seasonal workers as part of some kind of immigration culture war.

“Farmers went from being nervous but kind of backing the programme to being scared and not really understanding this completely illogical, incoherent approach the Government was taking.”

Cornwall MP and former environment secretary George Eustice has said it was “a failure of Liz Truss” not to secure an enduring trade rate quota (TRQ) on beef and sheep in the post-Brexit Australia and New Zealand deal.

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He told Channel 4 News: “There should have been … a fixed volume on beef and sheep in particular. It was a failure of Liz Truss not to secure that at the negotiating table.

“I think the current Government and Rishi Sunak as Prime Minister very much learnt the lessons from that failed negotiation.”