A NFU report published on February 25, day one of the NFU conference, shows farming is one of the few success stories during the recession.

Backing the Business of British Farming demonstrates how UK agriculture has proved remarkably resilient as an industry and highlights some of the many success stories in the food and farming sectors. The report reveals that: l Over the past five years UK agriculture’s contribution to the economy increased by 54 per cent between 2007 and 2012.

l Agriculture contributed an additional £8.6bn more to the UK economy between 2008 and 2012 than it did in the 2003-2007 five-year period in gross value added terms.

l Food and drink is now the UK’s fourth largest exporting sector – exports in the first half of 2013 grew by 2.5 per cent to £6.12bn compared to £5.97bn in the first half of 2012.

The report is backed up by a recent consumer survey which shows 88 per cent of people believe it is important the Government has a strategy to ensure a secure and affordable supply of British food.

Outgoing NFU president Peter Kendall said: “The achievements shown in this report prove that farming has been delivering for Britain’s economy despite the challenges thrown at us over the past couple of years – heavy rain, drought, unseasonable snow and, in recent weeks, we have all seen the impact of flooding across the country and the challenges farmers have faced.

“We as an industry produce the raw materials for the biggest manufacturing sector in the economy, so trying to get people to understand our contribution to the whole economy is absolutely vital.

“We are growing businesses.

We are creating jobs.

“If the Government is looking for a sector to kick-start growth and rebalance the economy they should start by looking at agriculture.

“I believe any long-term economic plan for growth in the UK must include a longterm and strategic food plan.

“All of us have worked hard to get food production and security firmly back on the agenda.

“It’s encouraging that a new YouGov survey shows that 88 per cent of people think it is important that the Government should have a strategy to ensure a secure and affordable supply of British food.

“And we have heard Defra ministers recently highlight that 24 per cent of the food eaten in the UK is imported when it could be produced here.

“My message is that farmers have a vital role in ensuring a safe, traceable and high quality domestic food supply, and the collective importance of food and farming to the UK economy must not be underestimated.

“This is why it’s so important that politicians and retailers continue to back the business of British farming.”