The OFC’s report pulls no punches. The Chairman of the OFC, Richard Whitlock comments, “Britain has some world-class farmers, but as a whole, our farming industry is lagging behind other countries and must make bold strides to becoming more globally competitive,"
This will come as a surprise to many farmers but agricultural productivity in this country, although it has improved, has not improved at the same rate as many of our competitors. This includes many of our European neighbours such as Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands as well as other non EU countries such as New Zealand and the United States.
The report’s author identifies a number of key factors which are necessary to improve competitiveness which include:
Halting the decline in public research expenditure on agriculture which to the contrary needs to be increased.
The need to spend these research funds “on near-market” research which can be put in to commercial use quickly which in turn would attract more private funds for research.
The research will help top performers improve productivity and their techniques will filter down to other farmers more widely.
Focus should be centred on the top and middle sectors of farm operators on the basis that those that do not seek information will always be very difficult to influence.
- Opportunities for restructuring UK agriculture through facilitated young farmer access should be improved. Younger farmers are often more strategic and visionary operators than their elders. They are also more frequently prepared to use loan, venture or external shareholder capital to expand the business.