Farmers are saying a huge “thank you” to people for their overwhelming support of the work they do to feed the nation and care for the countryside for the 2023 Back British Farming Day.

The annual celebration of homegrown food production comes as the public ranked the job of farming as one of the most important and well-respected professions in the country, second only to nursing – according to an NFU survey.

The public has also backed the NFU’s call for the Government to prioritise homegrown food production and legislate to ensure the UK’s self-sufficiency does not drop below its current level of 60 per cent.

North Riding and Durham NFU chair Brett Askew said: “County farmers will continue to provide the raw ingredients for a food and farming sector worth more than £100bn that employs some four million people.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Today is Back British Farming Day

“We are also helping to drive sustainability, we make a fundamental contribution to our economy and we can also offer many solutions to the climate change challenge.

“We are pleased that people have shown their support and appreciation for what we do, especially giving the global volatility at this time with weather and the continued implications of the war with the inflationary effects, we thank them for their continued support and hope they celebrate the NFU’s Back British Farming Day with us.”

Back British Farming Day celebrations were due to start in Westminster with a breakfast reception at the House of Commons with more than 100 MPs in attendance.

NFU President Minette Batters said: “Britain’s farmers and growers are truly inspirational, and it is heart-warming to know the public really value the work we do in producing fantastic homegrown food.

“This food underpins the British food and farming sector and is worth more than £100bn to the national economy, all while protecting and enhancing our iconic landscapes.

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“As these survey results show, the public really appreciate what Britain’s farmers and growers do day-in, day-out. Ninety per cent of the public feel farming is important to the UK economy while 81 per cent agreed that British farms should grow as much food as they can to provide national food security.

“We really have some of the most forward-thinking, productive and innovative farmers and growers working across our sector. Despite the challenges being faced by everyone this year, we are still doing what we do best – producing great tasting British food. On this Back British Farming Day, we appreciate this public support more than ever and want to say a massive thank you to everyone.”

At Westminster the MPs will be given a wheatsheaf pin badge, now an emblem of the day, to wear during Prime Minister’s Questions to show their support.

Minette Batters

Minette Batters

They heard that, according to the NFU survey, 87 per cent of respondents support increasing self-sufficiency in UK food production.

“This is a clear message that the public backs our calls for government to prioritise homegrown food production and legislate to ensure the UK’s self-sufficiency does not drop below its current level of 60 per cent,” Mrs Batters added.

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“We’ve had everything thrown at us over the past 18 months – soaring production costs, global market instability caused by the ongoing war in Ukraine, extreme bouts of weather and significant delays to farm payments.

“The empty shelves we’ve seen this year speak for themselves; we need to be producing more of our food here.

“Now is the time to ensure those policies are in place to support the production of quality, climate friendly, homegrown food. As we’ve said before, Government has statutory targets for the environment – why can’t food production have the same status?

“Fundamentally, investing in domestic food production means we can increase our productivity, create more jobs and deliver much more for the economy and for the environment.

“We know we have huge public support – we now just need our politicians to also back British farming like never before.”