The UK’s exit from the European Union may seem daunting, but the industry’s future will depend on how co-ordinated and determined it is in lobbying.
Speaking at the opening of the CropTec Show, held near Peterborough, ADAMA managing director, Rob King, said the industry has much to do and must manage itself well. “It is unlikely a BAP [British Agricultural Policy] will be as generous to farmers as CAP.”
However, countries such as New Zealand, where support payments had been removed, showed there was potential to bounce back, said Mr King. “The first five years without support saw arable yields drop but five years on, average yields recovered well and were much ahead of historic levels.
“What removal of support payments led to was an increase in efficiency, a stop to farming unproductive land and a focus on markets. New Zealand now has the highest yields of any wheat producing nation at 9.1t/ha. The UK ranks fifth.”
UK agriculture could find itself in a favourable position as a result of increasing populations – five billion in Asia and two billion in Africa, added Mr King. “The UK population is set to rise to 75 million so the domestic market also remains positive.
“The UK still remains in the top 10 in terms of cereal yield. We are very good at growing wheat and there are opportunities to do even better. We also have ports in the UK than many other European countries are jealous of.”
However, agronomic challenges concerning black-grass and septoria, in particular, remain and the shortage of new modes of action and existing chemicals at risk from regulatory restrictions means formulation programmes must not put undue pressure on these actives, said Mr King. “ALS and azole resistance are hampering efficacy of actives unless we act now with strong multi-site solutions.”