BRITISH dairy farmers could be starved of the sort of home-produced research needed to keep them at the forefront of their game in the post-Brexit era.
That was the opinion of Dr Dick Esslemont, who was awarded the prestigious RABDF Princess Royal Award for his work in devising the first computerised dairy herd health scheme in the UK which went on to get national, and subsequently international, recognition.
Growing as a spin-off from his doctorate work at Reading University, the scheme was launched in 1980 under the acronym DAISY (Dairy Information System) to monitor and improve all aspects of dairy cow performance, and forms the basis of many recording schemes today.
Speaking after the presentation at Buckingham Palace, he said he regretted the demise of home-based agricultural research which could leave the country in a poorer, less technologically savvy position especially when it came to competing on the global stage.
Dr Esselmont said: “I think we are probably finding it harder to compete with places like Ireland, France and
New Zealand and we might be competing head on with them quite soon after leaving the EU, so we might have to have all the resources we can muster to improve our production.
“I cannot see a lot of money being poured into agricultural research and development after Brexit unless the industry foots the bill itself.
“All the money that has been available from Brussels for R&D work in universities, I can see that being replaced and I think it will be tougher and we will have to rely on our own resources much more.
“The risk is that agricultural may not be well supported beyond 2020 and the industry may find it very hard to convince the Government in this country to invest in the rural sector.”
He said farmers should ensure their voices were heard now by highlighting the UK’s lack of self-sufficiency, lack of technical input, and lack of commitment by politicians to help agriculture.