Monday, 7 October 2019
Once more the Brexit deadline is looming and predicting the result seems more than a little foolhardy. However, I have been trying to imagine what Scottish agriculture will look like in five years’ time, possibly something just as challenging.
But it is necessary. I – along with my colleagues – are currently designing a new AHDB plan for Scotland covering 2020 – 2025, and to make sure it will give you the right support, we need to have a clear picture of where agriculture is going, and what role AHDB should be playing.
I’ve been speaking to farmers and growers, as well as other industry bodies and there are several areas which have come up again and again, and which clearly, we will need to focus on in the years ahead.
Our reputation will be key, and that is closely linked to our efforts to improve the environment. How are we protecting our natural landscapes, how are we encouraging biodiversity and helping capture carbon? We know farmers are already doing this, but we need to measure and promote that work, and we need to do more of it.
Consumers are also increasingly concerned with areas such as animal health and welfare and nutrition. While we recognise our role in promoting best practice on animal health and welfare within the industry, we must also continue to communicate clearly to consumers that the food we produce in Scotland is healthy and tasty and this is all underpinned by high animal care standards.
We also know that our knowledge exchange programme, whether that is our business groups and agronomy events, or our strategic and monitor farms, is a vital support to the industry, and we need to adapt as farming evolves. We will continue to use farmer-to-farmer learning opportunities to build business and technical skills, using systems like LEAN and Farmbench to improve bottom lines, at individual and industry level.
Markets and marketing will also need to be part of the picture. How do we respond to market demands, and how – and where – should we promote our products?
Finally, there has been much talk of collaboration, both between farmers and industry bodies, and it is vital we combine resources and expertise to protect and promote our businesses and agriculture more generally.
The new strategy will be published in April 2020, and if you would like tell me what we it should focus on, please get in touch (ScotlandDirector@ahdb.org.uk).
AHDB Scotland and Dairy Strategy Director