Industry supports FDSC report findings for productivity in agriculture
Defra secretary, George Eustice and National Farmers Union (NFU) president, Minette Batters, have backed a report published by the Food and Drink Sector Council (FDSC) which urges the industry and the Government to use new technology to help transform British farming.
The report by the Council’s Agricultural Productivity Working Group identifies five key areas for the industry to address to improve in order for the UK to achieve net zero emissions and to ‘overcome the productivity challenge that has long faced the British farming industry.’
The key areas listed in the report are:
- The need for UK agriculture to become more data driven.
- Development of the Evidence for Farming Initiative (EFI) to address fragmentation in knowledge exchange.
- Alignment of innovation funding and strategy to the needs of the industry.
- Addressing low uptake of agricultural skills and training.
- The need for infrastructure and policy to enable productivity gains.
The executive summary of the report states: “Productivity is a measure of how efficiently resources (including natural resources) are converted to outputs rather than production. The rate of productivity growth in UK agriculture lags behind that of many of our major competitors.
“The APWG’s vision is for a world-leading, competitive and sustainable agriculture and horticulture industry that can meet consumer demands for high quality products at every price point”
The report lists the following actions for the Government to be able to achieve these goals: “Invest in 5G infrastructure to enable required future data flow. Upgrade the rural electricity network to enable electrification of farm equipment. Facilitate the active management of land by productive, proficient farmers using different business models such as contract farming. Encourage business focused investment in primary agriculture.”
George Eustice, Defra secretary, said: “I’m grateful to everyone involved in producing this report, which sets out how we can boost productivity and support our farmers to unleash their potential. With our landmark Agriculture Bill, we now have the opportunity to transform British farming, and industry and government working more closely together will be an important part of this.”
NFU president, Minette Batters, said: “I am very pleased to support the APWG recommendations, which will offer a significant boost to a sector that offers so much to Britain at a time of great change and opportunity. A welcome feature of the partnership we’ve formed around the productivity challenge has been the full involvement of industry and government. This must be maintained as we move to act on these recommendations.”
“We are operating in unprecedented and uncertain times and it is vital for the industry to operate as one.”
Peter Kendall, member of the FDSC and chairman of the APWG, said: “Leaving the EU has significant implications for who our industry competes with. Support systems are going to change and Net Zero is in almost every headline you see. There’s a massive coming together of issues – a perfect storm that will bring with it huge challenges but also opportunities for the industry.
“The industry has come together to produce this report, pinpoint where the key challenges lie and how we, together should try and address them.
“The challenge coming is probably as big as any ever experienced by our industry. We are operating in unprecedented and uncertain times and it is vital for the industry to operate as one. Farming is at the beginning of a revolution that will leave big chunks of the industry unrecognisable from today. Robotics, artificial intelligence, carbon capture and use of data just a few areas. We could be so much more effective through achieving unity of purpose.”