Britain’s reliance on the EU for food concerns the bishop of St Albans, Rt Rev Dr Alan Smith, while Shirley Williams suggests a way Brexiters could rise to the challenge of finding crop pickers
The National Farmers’ Union is correct that “the two main responsibilities of any government are to defend its people and feed its people” (Brexit could leave Britain with a bare larder, farmers warn, 5 August). Recent history, notably the 2007-08 world food price crisis, shows that cheap food imports cannot be guaranteed. Further, the consequences of climate change and a rapidly growing population on the global food supply are unknown.
We rely heavily on other EU member states for food. Defra statistics show that in 2016 70% of all UK food, drink and animal feed imports were from the EU. If no trade deal is arranged, we will revert to WTO rules and risk a dramatic increase in the cost of food, both as a result of tariffs on imports and a weaker pound. Currently, only 15% of fruit and 55% of vegetables eaten in the UK are grown here. Without a robust domestic farming strategy, rising prices mean the healthy food that families need will become less accessible.