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Agribusiness 2010 report


Agribusiness 2010 delivers concensus on needs for more research to underpin farming and food production

Speakers from a wide range of backgrounds at Agribusiness 2010,(the Agricultural Industries Confederations annual conference), all agreed that there was a need for research to underpin the challenges that farming needs to address the challenges of population growth,climate change and food security.

The conference, subtitled Agriculture, Research and Science disconnect or reconnect?, heard first from Shadow Agriculture Ministry Lord Taylor of Holbeach who made it clear that whoever wins the next election must address the declining investment in research. He told delegetes there was no more money from the treasury and that the focus should be on making the most effective use of funds available.

For the NFU Helen Ferrier highlighted how the UK agriculture had stagnated in terms of its funding and agricultural progress. The UK, she said, was now at the bottom of the FAO league tables on improvements in output.

Professor Ian Crute, recently appointed as Director of Research at the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, called for motivational messages to attract young scientists into disciplines relevant to food and farming. He said systems need to be developed that would allow land to be cropped not just year after year, but generation after generation, providing truly sustainable production.

AIC Chief Executive David Caffall described how member companies invested around 45m a year in research and development and called for a recognition of the value of work undertaken by the supply industry and input manufacturers. He highlighted that most work was undertaken to good field and good laboratory standards. However, too often it is not recognised as being independent.

From a strategic research perspective Dr Celia Caulcott of the Biotechology and Biological Research Council pointed to a range of funding options that exist for industry to join forces with the research community. BBSRC is the most significant investor in agrifood research contributing some 45% of total annual expenditure compared to just 15% from Defra.

Summarising the day, AIC Chairman David Yiend said that the conference had clearly shown the importance of research to the industry. However, funding will clearly be a challenge in coming years, regardless of which political party is in power.

Further information

John Kelley, AIC
01733 385260

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