The best agricultural knowledge and technologies must be available to every farmer to increase productivity potential – that was the message emphasised by the NFU President speaking at the Agri-Tech East REAP Conference.
In his keynote speech Meurig Raymond said competitiveness, resilience and profitability are all critical to the sector and investment in agri-tech can help deliver these to all farmers.
Mr Raymond said: “All of us feel the pressures of rising costs, extreme weather, supply chain expectations, volatility, recession and regulation. Reaping the benefits of agri-tech shouldn’t be restricted to farmers who are fortunate enough.
“One of the NFU’s top asks of government is to increase investment in agri-science with a focus on applied research and knowledge exchange. Its continued support for the Agri-Tech Strategy is crucial for the sector.
“Agri-tech will enable farming to improve efficiency and, with this, reduce our trade deficits, reduce wastage, give us tools to manage volatility and a fair, transparent and functioning supply chain. All this will give farmers the confidence to invest.
“We also need science to understand the full environmental picture. Farmers need to know that their stewardship efforts to protect the environment are working. This is key to the industry’s resilience to environmental challenges.
“There are other hurdles. The NFU digital communications survey found that only 15% of farmers have a reliable mobile phone signal across the farm and over 60% don’t have fast enough broadband speed to do business. The government must accelerate the roll-out of high speed broadband to all rural areas.
“The UK agri-food sector is worth £103 billion and 13% of all employees work in the sector. Farmers provide the raw products for this industry – allowing them access to the best knowledge and technologies is vital to the industry’s innovation and growth.”