18 February 2019, 10:03 AM
  • A new report from the NFU looking at a post-Brexit food and farming industry considers how social, technological and environmental changes could impact British farms
NFU looks to the future of farming

The Future of Food 2040 looks at specific examples of how cutting-edge technologies, such as robotic equipment, autonomous crop care and ‘virtual’ fencing could affect food production and how the UK can take advantage.

Head of policy services Dr Andrea Graham commented on how this could possibly impact on independent retailers: “It is likely that the dominance of big retailers will continue to decline which could open up opportunities for new players in the retail market, making it more competitive for independents. A shift away from the big supermarket weekly shop to convenience and on-the-go shopping could provide a chance for independents to carve out their US and capitalise on these behaviour changes. As the world becomes more volatile, producers and retailers alike will need to adopt risk management strategies to allow their businesses to be sustainable and profitable. For example, more local sourcing within the UK would mean shorter supply chain and a reduced risk of food fraud. Close working relationships between the producer and retailer is also going to be key to ensuring knowledge sharing, product innovation and overall consumer satisfaction.”

The future of farming was also a key theme at the recent NFU conference where President Minette Batters said in her speech that the Government needs to convene a new commission of food and farming experts to establish principles that will ensure high standards of British food production are upheld after Brexit.

Stressing that a strong farming industry goes hand-in-hand with a strong environment, Mrs Batters also spoke about the NFU’s plans to tackle greenhouse gas emissions and for British farming to aim to achieve net zero by 2040. A drive to improve and invest in productive efficiency, incentivising carbon capture from the atmosphere, and bioenergy to power carbon capture storage systems are all part of the strategy.

“This commission needs to be charged with producing a report before the end of the year. Critically the commission would need to make recommendations on how future trade deals should be scrutinised at a high level by Parliament and industry, and the Government would need to act on those recommendations. Warm words are nice but we need firm commitments and clear actions,” she said.

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