VIEWERS of Prime Minister's Questions will have seen that some MPs were wearing heads of wheat on their lapels.

Many members of parliament across the government and opposition benches were wearing wheat and the reason is due to a campaign to support farmers.

Back British Farming Day is being held today (September 15) and is an initiative driven by the National Farmers Union (NFU).

Now in its sixth year, the day looks to highlight the work of British farmers and is this year also calling on the Tory government to support the sector as a labour crisis and supply-chain issues impact the industry.

NFU is calling on the UK Government to complete a comprehensive report on UK food security later this year, covering the country’s production of key foods and its contribution to global food security.

NFU Scotland has been in Westminster today to talk to politicians about the looming crises set to impact farmers.

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NFU Scotland has been critical of the UK Government signing up to post-Brexit trade deals with countries like Australia and New Zealand that undermine the high welfare standards of Scottish livestock farmers.

Speaking ahead of the trip, NFU Scotland president Martin Kennedy (below) said: “With so much to celebrate about the quality and standards of our food and drink, #BackBritishFarmingDay is a fantastic opportunity to thank the nation for their incredible support throughout Brexit and Covid-19. It also provides a platform to re-inforce to Government the huge impact that both events continue to have on the whole food and drink sector and the urgent need for politicians to do more to if we are to continue to sustainably fill the nation’s plates and glasses.

“The huge shortfall in labour has left food and drink supply chains creaking at the seams.  Huge losses have already been recorded on Scottish soft fruit and vegetable farms because of labour availability and disruption to food processing and distribution has seen a growing number of empty shelves in shops and supermarkets as we start the Christmas countdown.  

The National: NFU Scotland president, Martin Kennedy (Photo: Paul Watt)

“A lack of staffing within meat processing has also placed the pig sector in jeopardy, with 85,000 pigs reported to be backed up on UK farms, adding considerable costs to producers, while dairy farms are regularly reporting on the growing challenges of getting staff.

“NFU Scotland, both independently and in conjunction with the Scottish food and drink industry, has written several times to UK Government calling for measures that address the shortfall in both seasonal and permanent staff. Should it fail to do so, I have absolutely no doubt that the situation will deteriorate further.

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“As we celebrate #BackBritishFarming Day and the incredible standards we produce to, it is galling to hear that the UK Government is on the verge of signing up to another free trade deal that will permit a growing level of imports while delivering very little to our food and drink sector in return. Granting unfettered access to our markets to a major sheep and dairy producing nation like New Zealand comes on the back of a similar damaging deal being signed with Australia in June.

“The blunt fact is that neither deal has been afforded any kind of proper parliamentary scrutiny as the Government’s promised Statutory Trade and Agriculture Commission has yet to be established. Safeguards against market disruption are also promised but the cumulative impact of these deals will be profound for UK farming and, if handled badly, may make it impossible for some of our family farming businesses to continue to compete with high levels of low-cost imports produced standards that would not be allowed here.”