Research needed to secure future food production

A new report on the future of food production says more research is needed in areas such as managing animal disease within farming systems.

Key research areas highlighted in the Feeding the Future report, which identified priorities in the food production sector for the next 20 years, included: the utilisation of modern technology to improve efficiency; applying modern genetic and breeding approaches to improve food quality; and the development of integrated approaches to the management of animal disease within farming systems.

The report was led by a joint commissioning group (JCG), which represented major industry organisations including the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).

Professor Chris Pollock at Aberystwyth University was acting independent editor of the report. He said: “This report paves the way for funding for longer-term, applied research that links different sectors of our industry. Food producers have tended to deal with today’s problems but we need to shift the research agenda to deliver for 2030.”

Other recommendations included: promoting research with levy bodies and producer groups working together; the need for more influence to be given to producers, regarding governmental decision making; and an integrated approach to providing advice in the sector.  

AHDB chief executive Tom Taylor said: “With limited research funding available and with the clock ticking we believe it is vital to spell out the industry’s view on the research priorities for UK agriculture. This document has to be the reference manual for our policy makers and funding providers for the next two decades.”

NFU president Peter Kendall said: “This report clearly articulates what farmers need science to deliver if we are to achieve productivity improvements on the ground. It must become a key reference document for both policy makers and funders over the coming years and we look forward to a boost in applied research and knowledge exchange making a major contribution to the performance of our farms.”