As consumers we have become accustomed to being able to eat what we want, when we want.

Global supply chains mean we can enjoy tropical fruits imported from the other side of the world in the depths of the British winter, for example.

But such is the fragility of these chains that scarcity of certain foods is becoming increasingly common on supermarket shelves, whether that’s due to global climate pressures affecting foreign harvests, conflict in Europe or trade friction and economic volatility affecting product availability.

I’m sure that that the significance of Wednesday 9th August 2023 will have passed many readers by without a second’s thought. It was, in fact, the day where the UK larder would have run empty if we only ate food produced in the UK from 1st January. In 1984 the UK’s self sufficiency in food stood at 78%, in recent years it has fallen as low as 60%. Given the changing weather events we have seen both at home and globally in this year alone – and their seismic impacts on our food systems – these self sufficiency statistics are extremely worrying reading.

At NFU Cymru we believe it’s high time our governments in Cardiff Bay and Westminster take domestic food production seriously and prioritise safeguarding our nation’s ability to feed itself.

Aside from changing weather patterns, farmers in Wales also face changing policy conditions that affect their ability to produce food. NFU Cymru has highlighted the industry’s concerns about Welsh Government’s Sustainable Farming Scheme proposals, that could see farmers having to turn over up to 10% of their productive land to tree planting. The union contests that this recent self sufficiency data is another bona fide reason why Welsh Government must urgently reconsider this element of its policy proposals, as these plans will collectively reduce Welsh farming’s food producing capability and make the nation even more reliant on imports from other countries. Not only does an over-reliance on imports put us in a vulnerable position in food production terms, but it also makes little sense when you consider the negative carbon impact of those imports in contrast to sustainable food produced here in Wales.

As farmers and growers, we take great pride in feeding the nation delicious, nutritious and affordable food. When our counterparts across the world are finding their jobs increasingly challenging due to high temperatures and record rainfall, Wales’ maritime climate and fantastic natural asset base mean our farmers couldn’t be better placed to feed our people and play a positive role in global food security.

While we will always be a trading nation in food, we cannot remain over-reliant on imports when other countries are also facing significant challenges economically and climatically. We need agricultural policy that supports food production capacity and enables the industry to prosper. Our governments in Cardiff Bay and Westminster need to take an active interest in the resilience of our food supply chains and we need to be able to produce more of our own food at home.