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An Introduction to the new Agricultural Transition Plan

As a member of the British Agri-Tech community, Kasi McReddie has literally been on the edge of her seat waiting for DEFRA’s announcement which sets out Government’s plans for the transition from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The announcement, of which details can be found at The Path to Sustainable Farming: An Agricultural Transition Plan 2021 to 2024, lays out plans for adaptation in the English farming community over the next seven years. Kasi is Agri-EPI’s Business Development Manager Livestock and Aquaculture and has formulated what this means for farmers and the agri-tech community and what opportunities there are for agri-tech companies going forward.

Farmers in England will see a phased-out reduction in Direct Payments over 4-years starting in 2021, with money saved in reduced BPS payments being used to fund grant and schemes to boost farmers’ productivity and reward environmental improvements.

What does the announcement mean for the agri-tech community?

One of the main barriers to the uptake of technology on farm is cost. In my experience, farmers are very good business people and, quite rightly, are rarely convinced to purchase a novel or innovative piece of equipment. The Agricultural Transition Plan gives us more details of some schemes which aim to financially incentivise farmers to look towards technology to improve the sustainability of their production.

Looking forward, the Environmental Land Management (ELMs) will include the Sustainable Farming Incentive (beginning 2022), which will support approaches to farm husbandry that deliver for the environment, such as actions to improve soil health, hedgerows and integrated pest management.

Future plans will also include the Farming Investment scheme, which is aimed at improving productivity in agriculture, addressing the underlying causes by supporting businesses to invest in equipment, technology, and infrastructure.

This will include:

  • Farming Equipment Technology Fund – small grants to contribute towards the purchase of a list of specified items
  • Farming Transformation Fund – larger grants towards the cost of more substantial investments in equipment, technology or infrastructure

The Farming Investment Fund for Equipment and Technology and Transformation will be open for applications in autumn 2021. From 2022, farmers will also benefit from an increased investment in agricultural Research & Development that will enable more farmers and agri-food businesses to drive innovation.

What does the announcement mean for farmers?

Under the new plan, farmers will be encouraged and incentivised to embrace changes to production techniques and practices which will reduce any negative environmental impacts. Significant emphasis is being put on innovation over the several years ahead. Farmers will be incentivised to explore how technology can be used to improve productivity whilst simultaneously delivering for the environment.

Agri-EPI have a unique network of 27 ‘Satellite Farms’ – a group of forward-thinking farmers who have welcomed the use of technology on farm and are paving the way for a more sustainable future. From milking robots to animal health sensors, and from infrared technology to drones, Agri-EPI have delivered innovation to the British farming community in this way. The Satellite Farm network is a thriving example of how the adoption of technology can support the productivity, efficiency, and sustainability of food production.

How can Agri-EPI support tech companies?

The report states that, by 2028, all farmers should be “managing their whole business in a way that delivers profitable food production and the recovery of nature, fusing the best modern technology available today with the rediscovery of the traditional art of good farm husbandry”.

As an example, technology to improve animal health will be eligible under the new Farming Investment Fund. Agri-EPI are working with a number of innovators to enable the development of solutions for monitoring the health of calves, adult cows and pigs using motion sensors, 3D imagery, augmented reality and more. Such solutions allow ‘early detection’ of health issues before a farmer could with the naked eye, thereby enabling early intervention leading to improved animal welfare, improved productivity, and efficiency. and cost savings on-farm.

Agri-EPI combines technical expertise, technology, and on-farm ‘test beds’ to provide a unique offering to support tech developers and farmers alike to co-develop solutions to some of farming’s most prominent challenges. The Government have now clearly laid out plans which will underpin our mission, by providing grants to farmers to purchase innovative solutions.

Agri-EPI also provide business support, project management and access to world-class research and innovation facilities and research assets, and builds links between research, agri-tech innovation, industry and the value chain, through its membership of >150 companies across agriculture, technology and the value chain.

The announcement should be welcomed by the farming and agri-tech community alike, with shifting policy clearly focussed on incentivising the use of innovation on-farm.

The industry faces unprecedented challenges, the likes of which some will only experience once in a lifetime. During the coming period of change, Agri-EPI will continue to support innovation in agriculture.

More information

If you want to learn more about how we you can get involved in R&D, learn more about our Satellite Farm network, or simply contact us to find out more about how we can support your own business.

How to prepare your business for Brexit

The Government’s Brexit negotiations appear to be continuing to the deadline, and while great uncertainty remains there are some knowns which can help businesses prepare. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has issued a series of bulletins to guide agri-food businesses through the UK’s departure from the EU, which is currently scheduled to take place on 31 October. Specific guidance for food and drink businesses is available on the Food and Drink GOV.UK landing page, including advice for importers and exporters of animal products, food labelling, tariffs, data protection and more.

There are also several events and webinars available:

> Brexit Business Readiness Events

The Government is arranging free Brexit Business Readiness Events across the UK where you can meet Government advisers and find out what actions to take.

The events will combine a keynote address, interactive support, advice stands and in-depth sessions led by subject matter experts. They will provide delegates with specific business-focused advice and help.

Register to attend an event at: https://registration.livegroup.co.uk/brexitbusinessreadinessevents/

> DIT Get ready for Brexit business-facing workshops

The Department for International Trade is also running a series of events to help exporters to get ready for Brexit – these will be particularly useful for businesses who are exporting to the EU.

DIT will talk about the impact to supply chains, changes to regulations and contracts, where to find tariff information, and what you might need to speak to customers and employees about. You will leave the event with a personalised action plan to prepare your business for Brexit.

See dates, locations and sign up – limited registration place available.

> HMRC Getting ready for Brexit webinars

HMRC is running a number of webinars for UK businesses involved in the movement of goods between the EU and the UK.

Find out what you need to know to keep importing and exporting by signing up for a webinar.

> Trading with the UK as an EU business after Brexit

If you’re an EU business not established in the UK, check what you’ll need to do differently to trade with the UK in a no-deal Brexit. The guidance can be found here.

> Identify livestock for export to the EU in a no-deal Brexit

The UK can continue exporting livestock to the EU in a no-deal Brexit however there is a requirement to follow some extra rules on ear tagging. Please find guidance on how to identify sheep, cattle, pigs and goats when exporting to the EU in a no-deal Brexit.

> Food exporters: Get ready for animal health regulations

Importers and exporters of animals and animal products – including meat, cheese and fish – will be subject to new requirements if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. George Eustice MP shares his thoughts here.

> How to move goods through RORO locations in a no-deal Brexit

A process flow for freight roll-on, roll-off (RORO) imports and exports between the UK and the EU for a no-deal Brexit (excluding Northern Ireland) is available here.

> Hauliers and commercial drivers will need new documents to transport goods into the EU after Brexit

GOV.UK guidance is available here summarising document requirements for the driver, vehicle, cargo and customs to transport goods into the EU after Brexit.

> EU Regulation: Smarter rules for safer food

The EU is introducing new rules to protect against animal disease and plant pests. The new Official Controls Regulation (EU) 2017/625 and Plant Health Regulation (EU) 2016/2031 will apply in EU member states from 14 December 2019. How and when the UK implements these regulations will depend on Brexit. UK exporters will need to comply with these regulations when they come into force in all Brexit scenarios. Further information on this can be found here.

 

Stay informed

Keep up to date with the latest impact and results of our work, plus, news, innovation and approaches across the sector. Read our latest news and Agri-EPI blogs.

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