Investment key to unlocking production challenge

Investment key to unlocking production challenge

A new report setting out how British farming can produce more food while impacting less on the environment has been described as a turning point by the NFU.

The Green Food Project report, which brought together farming and industry organisations together with government, consumers and environmental bodies was set up following the publication of last June’s Natural Environment White paper to investigate how the goals of increasing production and improving the environment could be achieved.

NFU President Peter Kendall who sat on the Steering Group, said: “The scene has been set since the publication of Professor Sir John Beddington’s Foresight report: we know what the challenges are in feeding a growing population while minimising and reducing our impacts on the environment. And we know that the UK farming industry must play a part in addressing food security here and globally. This means we will have to produce significantly more food whilst impacting less on the natural environment.

“Last year we made a call at our annual conference for a national Food Plan – a strategy across government and industry that moves us beyond the clichés and starts to map out who needs to do what, where and when. The Green Food Project is certainly a major step forward to achieving this. It’s not quite the end of the journey but it is a significant body of work that identifies the key issues that will need to be addressed by government, industry and other stakeholders.

“We now have some clear actions to move forward with. In particular, the report identifies some of the steps that need to be taken by the science community, government and farmers in delivering more user-inspired, applied research. It pushes us to think smarter about knowledge exchange. Stimulating investment is critical if Defra is to consider how it can better support a more competitive, resilient industry. A step that government could take quickly is to overhaul the capital allowances to create more generous incentives for farmers to invest in new buildings, water lagoons and slurry stores.

“But it’s not just about government; all members of the Green Food Project will be taking responsibility for actions. For our part, we are committing to work more closely on skills, new entrants, competitiveness and environmental delivery.

“What has been really encouraging through this process is how we all, officials, farm organisations and environmental groups have been able to collaborate constructively to address the challenges of increasing production and improving the environment.”

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