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Working group makes recommendations to improve agricultural productivity

A working group set up by the Food and Drink Sector Council has made five recommendations to improve the UK’s agricultural productivity.

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Working group makes recommendations to improve agricultural productivity

The Agricultural Productivity Working Group (APWG), chaired by Peter Kendall, warned in a new report the industry would be unable to keep up with its competitors if it did not address its productivity problem.

 

Agricultural productivity in the UK, measured as the rate at which inputs are converted to outputs, lags behind major competitors, with total-factor productivity (TFP) increasing by just 18 per cent since 1991, compared to 82 per cent in France and 52 per cent in the Netherlands.

 

With costs of production exceeding £20bn, a 1 per cent saving through productivity gains would translate to more than £200m in returns to the industry.


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Mr Kendall said: “Leaving the EU has significant implications for who our industry competes with.

 

“Support systems are going to change and net zero is in almost every headline you see. There is a massive coming together of issues – a perfect storm that will bring with it huge challenges but also opportunities.

 

“The industry has come together to produce this report, pinpoint where the key challenges lie and how we, together, should try to address them.”

 

The five recommendations to boost productivity in the report are:

  1. Encouraging UK agriculture to become more data driven, allowing performance measurement and the sharing of data to compare between farms
  2. Developing the Evidence for Farming Initiative (EFI) to bring together separate strands of work on knowledge exchange, tackling the problems associated with having a wide range of delivery bodies, variable messaging and no central point for quality assured advice
  3. Making sure innovation funding and strategy are geared towards the needs of the industry
  4. Addressing low uptake of agricultural training through the creation of a Professional Body for Farming and Horticulture, policy incentives to motivate farmers to work on continued professional development and the recognition of agriculture as a STEM industry
  5. Investing in the infrastructure necessary to deliver productivity gains, such as 5G and the rural electricity network

Defra Secretary George Eustice said: “I am grateful to everyone involved in producing this report, which sets out how we can boost productivity and support our farmers to unleash their potential.

 

“With our landmark Agriculture Bill, we now have the opportunity to transform British farming, and industry and Government working more closely together will be an important part of this.”

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