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Agriculture sector positioned to drive changes
Published:  27 July, 2017

The UK’s farming industry is in a unique position to implement change and “build a world-class agriculture industry”, according to the English red meat levy board.

The Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) highlighted six key productivity drivers at a recent conference, designed to progress the sector.

They are: realising genetic potential; building sustainable plant and animal health; managing resources efficiently and sustainably; driving precision technology into practice; facilitating trusted food in the supply chain; and honing business and technical skills.

“With seismic changes going on globally, we are entering a defining time for UK agriculture and horticulture,” said AHDB chief executive Jane King. “It’s a time when we face challenges, but there are also many opportunities.

“Working with our partners to develop shared research and knowledge exchange goals, we can pull together and drive changes, which will build a world-class agricultural industry.”

Work that the levy board has already invested in includes finding alternatives to antibiotics, improving animal health and welfare and increasing the resistance to disease across all sectors.

During the discussion, held on 20 July, delegates heard feedback from AHDB’s work for farmers and growers. “When we first took on our farm, we arrived with a pitchfork and a pinch of knowledge about the market,” said beef and lamb farmer Paul Westaway, who now supplies to some of the UK’s largest supermarkets.

“Working with AHDB and industry experts, we have developed our farm into a productive part of a global supply chain. Today, I am able to tell my customers exactly why my cattle are healthy and comfortable – using technology to track precisely what they’re eating, their temperature and more. Whatever the future may hold, I feel confident that the focused priorities will allow the agricultural industry to up its game for the challenges ahead.”

Richard Laverick, AHDB chief technical officer, commented that the levy board was developing ways of engaging and learning. “To harness and focus the collective wisdom of the agricultural and horticultural industry, we are expanding our network of monitor and strategic farms through our new Farm Excellence Platform. Experience shows us farmer-to-farmer learning is a powerful way to engage producers and encourage adoption of new ideas.

“We now have a focused plan to enable farmers and growers to accelerate their pace of change, sharing knowledge together to make sure that British produce is fit for the future and able to compete in a global marketplace.”