Shape the future of cereals and oilseeds

At AHDB, the levy payer is at the centre of everything we do. That’s why we’re asking you to tell us what you want from us.

Shape the future explained

Our sector councils have identified key ‘priorities’ which they think are important to cereals and oilseeds farmers and processors. The priorities are shown below with blue headings and marked A, B, C….

Each priority contains ‘streams’ of work which show how we at AHDB are working to meet those priorities. The work streams for each priority are titled in green and numbered 1, 2, 3…

Please read through them, using the links for more information, and decide how important you think each priority and work stream is to you and your business.

From 11 April, you will then be able to rate how important you think these priorities are to you and your business through the shape the future portal.

The Cereals and Oilseeds Sector Council has identified the following five priorities for the industry:

(A) Supporting farmers to remain viable despite changes to farm support, profitability and productivity challenges

(B) Tackling pest, weed and disease pressures with less chemistry available, and implement greater integrated pest management (IPM)

(C) Feeding our crops economically and sustainably, and improve soil health

(D) Meeting 'Net Zero' ambitions for the environment across supply chains, including biodiversity, while maintaining profit margins

(E) Maintaining our reputation among customers and consumers, and attracting skilled staff

(A) Supporting farmers to remain viable despite changes to farm support, profitability and productivity challenges

1. Using market intelligence analysis

We deliver up-to-date information on market prices, supply and demand data, futures and the import/export markets. Our evidence increases the chance of decisions being made in the best interest of both levy payers and the wider industry.  

Activities include:

  • Delivery of accurate, robust and independent data and analysis to cereal and oilseed producers, the supply chain, trade bodies and Government
  • Provision of support for tools, such as Farmbench and the Farm Business Review service, which can be used to make on-farm decisions
  • Frequently updated and interactive web pages
  • Grain Market Daily (e-newsletter), which has over 4,000 subscribers
  • The annual Grain Market Outlook Conference, aimed at merchants and millers, to provide information about supply and demand for both domestic and international markets
  • The twice-yearly Agri Market Outlook, which delivers a whole-market overview, and details the official end-of-season supply and demand estimates
  • The Cereals Agri-Outlook, which examines the current situation and what might be expect in the coming months, for supply availability, trade and demand

2. Helping farmers manage the reduction in the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS)

We help farmers consider how new subsidy schemes might add value to their farm business and navigate government policy changes, including reductions in the BPS.

Activities include:

  • Provision of Farmbench, our benchmarking tool, which has over 2,000 registered users. Once you have entered your farm’s data you can discuss results with other farmers at AHDB-supported business improvement groups, learn how comparable farms are performing, and identify how to improve business efficiency and increase profits
  • Our Farm Business Review service helps farmers produce a business plan with a consultant. The service provides tailored resources to help farmers record how their businesses are performing
  • Our Business Impact Calculator illustrates the impact the reduction in BPS payments will have on farm businesses and shows potential options to replace funding, such as through the Sustainable Farming Incentive
  • We provide further help and support, including guides and events

3. Maintaining export markets

We provide a link between overseas customers and raise awareness of export opportunities for UK cereals and oilseeds. We maintain access with existing customers and ensure they have up-to-date information to continue to import UK grains and oilseeds. We monitor demand for grains and oilseeds in existing markets so that we know where opportunities lie if there is a surplus, and monitor changes in global trade patterns to identify trade opportunities.

Activities include:

  • Maintenance of the ukp and uks milling wheat classifications to make it easier for overseas buyers to choose milling wheat for bread or biscuits, at the required specification, without needing detailed knowledge of UK varieties
  • Running annual outward missions to overseas markets to provide importers and millers with independent information about UK-grown cereals (quality and quantity)
  • Acting as an official body to secure agreements with government bodies in overseas markets to overcome barriers to trade or develop new markets, such as working with Chinese officials on trade protocols for barley
  • Identification of opportunities for feed barley in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region – which receives most of the UK’s exported feed barley
  • Production of intelligence reports for the UK’s main export markets – Spain, Portugal, Algeria, Morocco and China – and competitor countries – Russia, Australia, Argentina, France, Romania and Bulgaria

4. Digital grain passport

The combinable crops grain passport is an essential part of UK assurance systems. We aim to make sure that it continues to meet the requirements of modern supply chains. The digital passport will provide real-time feedback on grain quality and information on load statuses (e.g. collected and delivered). The system will save growers time and improve product traceability. The efficient and effective use of data will also help drive a more profitable industry.

Activities include:

  • Collaboration with industry to develop, pilot and roll out a digital grain passport to help replace the paper-based system
  • Ensuring that the system benefits farmers and the wider supply chain

(B) Tackling pest, weed and disease pressures with less chemistry available, and implement greater integrated pest management (IPM)

1. Adapting to chemical loss with adoption of IPM practice

We aim to increase the uptake of integrated pest management (IPM) best practice to enable farmers to manage pests, weeds and diseases, through targeted investment in research, tools and the provision of independent and easy-to-use guidance.

Activities include:

2. Our Recommended Lists (RL) information

We aim to provide farmers, and the wider industry, with independent and robust information on cereals and oilseeds varietal performance to enable informed selection decisions. A foundation of IPM, the RL helps to underpin profitable and sustainable production.

Activities include:

  • Investment in field trials, tests and data analysis to provide information on yield and quality performance, agronomic features (including disease resistance) and market options
  • Recommendation of new cereal and oilseeds varieties with positive agronomic and quality characteristics
  • Delivery of knowledge direct to farmers via the RL booklet, RL app, variety selection tools and harvest results

(C) Soil health and the Nutrient Management Guide (RB209)

1. Management of soil health and our Nutrient Management Guide (RB209)

Soil health: We aim to help farmers build healthy soils, which are inherently more resilient and offer greater management flexibility, by providing independent information on how farmers can maximise profitability while minimising environmental impact.

Activities include:

  • Creation and delivery of practical soil management information, via our GREATsoils activity – covering a wide range of topics: from soil biology, crop establishment and cultivations, to soil assessments
  • Investment in research to help growers maintain and improve the productivity of UK agricultural systems, through better understanding of soil health
  • Publication of a ‘soil health scorecard’ approach to aid with the routine monitoring of soil health – developed as part of our Soil Biology and Soil Health Partnership

RB209: We aim to provide robust and independent evidence to help you make the most of organic materials and balance the benefits of fertiliser use against the costs – both economic and environmental.

Activities include:

  • Investment in nutrient management research to help ensure guidance takes into consideration the latest commercial practice and market prices
  • Analysis of research results and development of revised guidance based on robust evidence
  • Regular revision of the Nutrient Management Guide (RB209) to reflect the latest guidance. The 2022 RB209 edition is based on the results of several recently completed research projects
  • Encouraging use of RB209 data in digital channels, including the RB209 app, to facilitate easy and on-the-go access

(D) Meeting 'Net Zero' ambitions for the environment across supply chains, including biodiversity, while maintaining profit margins

1. Supporting our industry to deliver sustainable change

We’ll demonstrate safe steps farmers can take in the form of guidance, tools and tips to help you farm more sustainably, including the use of practices that could save money and improve productivity.

Activities include:

  • Continued support for our on-farm carbon auditing programme, which established baseline data for the first time
  • Provision of resources for on-farm carbon footprinting and facilitating the sharing of results across farms
  • Investment in sustainability research. For example, BBSRC is investing £500,000 in a partnership with us to deliver 10 research projects in 2022. These aim to help the industry transition to more sustainable practices, and ultimately Net Zero carbon by 2040
  • Provision of independent evidence and support to inform government policies and on-farm activity, such as those related to the Farming Rules for Water, carbon sequestration, carbon offsetting and biodiversity
  • We protect farmers and the industry from unfair criticism by myth-busting in the media when unfair or inaccurate information is provided

(E) Maintaining our reputation among customers and consumers, and attracting skilled staff

1. Protecting and enhancing the reputation of the industry

We work with others across the industry to have a collective voice and respond when necessary to protect and promote its value, both nutritionally and environmentally.

We are regularly contacted by TV and newspapers and make sure that they’re given the facts to fairly represent the industry and where appropriate, we also provide spokespeople. Our independent data and co-ordinated actions protect the reputation of the industry by countering negative challenges. We are the only organisation that allows the industry to have a collective voice in this way.

We believe it is important that media and advertising related to agriculture are based on facts.

Activities include:

  • Monitoring media for agricultural items
  • Challenging misinformation with facts and data
  • Working with the media to encourage balanced reporting based on facts and data
  • Our consumer campaigns, such as We Eat Balanced, which featured on TV, print and online, reaching 18.4 million consumers, promotes the value and benefits of eating British products

2. Educating consumers of the future

Children are the consumers of tomorrow. They are key to ensuring the long-term sustainability of the UK food and farming industry. Through our education work, we are committed to increasing children’s understanding of where and how their food is grown and produced.

Activities include:

3. People working in agriculture and labour supply

We deliver a programme to help farmers get the skills they need to secure a professional, confident workforce to keep pace with emerging technologies and innovation. We work with industry to identify what specialist skills are needed, and deliver training in these areas.

Activities include:

  • Coordination and collaboration with industry to identify skills and training needs, such as through our Bridging the Gap report, and to highlight the importance of investment in skills
  • Addressing needs through our Skills programme, which includes our management and leadership courses
  • Investment in our AgriLeader programme to provide opportunities for you to exchange ideas and learn from experts and peers. With a focus on how farmers can better lead themselves, lead their people and lead their businesses, the programme offers something for everyone: from AgriLeader Bitesize short talks to a two-day flagship event – the AgriLeader Forum
  • Helping to develop industry standards, for example, we joined forces with industry, employers and NFU to set standards for six Trailblazer Apprenticeship schemes, including ones for crop technicians and general farm workers
  • Collaborating to address market failures in the design, delivery and standard of training opportunities and accredited qualifications
  • Helping to pilot an independent, free-at-the-point-of-access, professional framework to capture CPD, training and accreditation opportunities and signpost to recognised providers
  • Informing Government about labour supply issues, including ways to address them

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