More food research plea from NFU

More food research plea from NFU

The Government and industry must work together to ensure the country’s farmers can meet the challenge of producing more food for a growing population, is the NFU plea at the Labour fringe event in Manchester.

NFU deputy president Meurig Raymond emphasised how research must be applied directly to farmers’ businesses.

“A vital – perhaps the vital – component in delivering affordable food security is how we best make use of R&D. Few people now question the need to ramp up production, but the question remains how we do it, and in particular how we do it while safeguarding the natural environment on which farming relies – what is increasingly termed sustainable intensification” he claimed.

Mr Raymond went on to explain how there has been a 20-year decline in publicly-funded applied R&D and as a result there needs to be more emphasis on turning basic research into actual products, technologies and practices that can be used by farmers and growers on a commercial scale.

“Government and industry must work together to get this right. In the current economic climate we have to examine both the balance of existing public funding for agricultural R&D and at the same time explore new funding models, for example a hybrid of public and private funds coming together. Government should retain a strong role in addressing market failure in terms of research, for instance funding for research into minor uses of herbicides – the UK spends less than any other European country in this area.

“We also need to see much better co-ordination between the different bodies involved in setting strategic research priorities, the research community, organisations like AHDB and farmers.”

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