British farmers must reinforce their commitment to raising standards if they are thrive in the post-Brexit era, according to a new report.
The study, commissioned by KW Alternative Feeds, Trident and ABN, said industry must research and adopt improved safety procedures and animal welfare systems, as well as enhancing working conditions and setting out clear career paths.
Other key challenges outlined were the need to boost productivity alongside sustainability, and to improve international competitiveness – the latter of which was designated as the priority by economist Sean Rickard, who wrote the report.
Dr Rickard said: “The UK not only has some of the most productive and dynamic food and farm businesses in the world but also a global reputation for high standards and ethics.
“It is home to universities and research institutes recognised as world leaders in areas ranging from crop and animal science to sensors and artificial intelligence.
“If the UK’s agri-food industry is brave enough to embrace the new reality of ‘Global Britain’, the reward will be an era of prosperity and growth.”
Dr Rickard also called on the Government to take an ‘aggressive export orientated approach’, rather than a defensive stance, with demand for food from middle classes in developing countries growing rapidly.
The number of middle-class consumers in emerging nations is currently estimated at 2.5 billion, but is expected to rise to around 4 billion by 2030.
Simon Heath, managing director of KW Alternative Feeds, Trident and ABN, added: “UK farming is standing at the threshold of a one-off opportunity to trade on our strengths in welfare standards, traceability, sustainability and credence attributes.
“To do this, we need to become more internationally competitive, and that means getting more productive.”
Phil Bicknell, AHDB market intelligence director, said success in export markets was likely to come from a focus on value-added products rather than commodities.
Graeme Dear, chairman of the British Poultry Council, agreed international competitiveness was a priority alongside the domestic market for poultry products.
“Looking ahead, precision farming will enhance productivity while improving environmental sustainability, and this must be the focus in this new era that we are entering,” he said.