AIC says take Lancet report in moderation

The Lancet has reported we should all be eating less red meat.

The 50-page Lancet report includes a huge roll-out campaign with launches in 40 cities. The dietary recommendations include encouraging consumers to eat red meat no more than once per week and to slash their total consumption of beef and pork by 90%.

It says: “Food systems have the potential to nurture human health and support environmental sustainability; however, they are currently threatening both. 

Picture: Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/robert_scarth/201883714/

“Providing a growing global population with healthy diets from sustainable food systems is an immediate challenge. 

“Although global food production of calories has kept pace with population growth, more than 820 million people have insufficient food and many more consume low-quality diets that cause micronutrient deficiencies and contribute to a substantial rise in the incidence of diet-related obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases, including coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. 

“Unhealthy diets pose a greater risk to morbidity and mortality than does unsafe sex, and alcohol, drug, and tobacco use combined. 

“Because much of the world’s population is inadequately nourished and many environmental systems and processes are pushed beyond safe boundaries by food production, a global transformation of the food system is urgently needed.”

According to the report, “The Commission quantitively describes a universal healthy reference diet, based on an increase in consumption of healthy foods (such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and nuts), and a decrease in consumption of unhealthy foods (such as red meat, sugar, and refined grains) that would provide major health benefits, and also increase the likelihood of attainment of the sustainable development goals.”

Recommendations generated by the EAT Lancet Commission report will need to be used wisely to help to address the twin challenges of adequate food consumption and climate change, says Robert Sheasby, Chief Executive of the Agricultural Industries Confederation.

“The global debate is an important one, but we would like it to be viewed at a national level   considering the land capability, climate and the benefits offered by the UK’s food chain, its farming systems and the nation’s landscape,” says Mr Sheasby.

“Meat and livestock products are amongst the UK’s best assets for not only achieving a balanced healthy diet for domestic and overseas needs but also in creating a balanced and healthy farming landscape.

“A dramatic shift from established national guidelines for a balanced diet including high quality red meat and animal protein, as suggested by the EAT-Lancet Commission report, needs to be carefully considered, domestically, if it is to deliver the right outcomes locally and globally for food producers and consumers alike.” 

AIC Members are investing heavily in how to further reduce farm emissions as far as technically possible using up-to-date knowledge, and novel solutions, alongside the offsetting of emissions in the countryside through carbon storage in unfarmed corridors between fields and in woodlands. And through its associate the UK Former Foodstuffs Processing Association, it is working to retain over 650,000 tonnes of food products within the circular economy, rather than letting it become waste.

AIC and UK farming bodies are leading action to minimise emissions from both livestock production whilst producing high quality nutritional food to high welfare and continually improving environmental standards.  Some 5000 professional advisers, trained in crop and livestock nutrition are on hand to help farmers make essential and innovative changes. 

“The challenges rely on everyone consuming in moderation and reducing food waste. In this way, we can achieve national ambitions for sustainability and contribute to international goals,” concluded Mr Sheasby

Resolution needed to secure UK animal health and welfare says NOAH, after Brexit landmark vote

By Matt Holmes, January 17

The National Office of Animal Health is urging politicians to work together to agree an urgent resolution to Brexit negotiations in order to provide certainty for animal health businesses. 

Prime Minister Theresa May beat a vote of no confidence in her Government after the House of Commons voted down her Brexit plans this week.

MPs will be able to vote on   ‘Plan B’ on January 29, it has been confirmed.

It comes after the Commons emphatically voted down Mrs May’s deal with the European Union on Tuesday evening.

Companies are working hard to finalise plans to protect and ensure supply of vital veterinary medicines within the UK, as 29 March rapidly approaches.

“Leaving the EU without a deal will present a serious risk to the seamless supply of the medicines our animals need to protect their health and prevent disease and suffering, despite the extensive preparation our members have been carrying out to prepare for the many Brexit scenarios that have been under discussion,” NOAH Chief Executive Dawn Howard explained.

“We need a decision to be made that means that we do not leave the EU on 29 March without a transition period. Should ‘no deal’ prevail, then it is vital that government guarantees veterinary medicines are given the same customs priority afforded to human medicines. Many vital medicines, including vaccines, have short shelf lives and specific transport conditions. They must not be caught up in potential backlogs with other commodity goods.

“Our members look forward to continuing to work with Government and the authorities to the best of their ability to help protect the nation’s animals by ensuring medicines are available, whatever the final outcome of deliberations,” she added. “We await the next stage in the process.”

Dawn Howard, CEO NOAH

Brexit and the UK poultry industry

A REPORT into the UK poultry industry by an independent think tank says maintaining a relationship with the EU is vital to the British economy.

The report by ResPublic – an independent non-partisan think tank that seeks to establish a new economic, social and cultural settlement for the United Kingdom – looks at three possible Brexit scenarios for the poultry meat industry.

The report – Coming Home To Roost – outlines the importance of the poultry sector in its executive summary: “The poultry meat sector is a vital British industry. Over 50 per cent of all meat consumed in the UK is poultry of which 88 per cent is chicken.

“The industry directly employs over 37,000 people and sustains a total of 87,700 jobs, turning over £7.2bn and contributing £5bn Gross Value Added (GVA) to the UK economy.

“For every £1bn the sector contributes in GVA, it also generates £1.2bn in the rest of the economy  and it also contributes over £1bn in direct and indirect tax revenue.

“Ensuring the sustainability of the sector post-Brexit is fundamentally important to Britain’s economy.”

The UK is the fourth largest poultry meat producer in the EU and is about 60 per cent self-sufficient. UK consumers prefer to eat white breast meat rather than dark cuts like wings, legs and thighs. This means the UK is a net importer of poultry – predominantly of chicken breast – while producers have to export surplus dark meat to maximise revenue.

“The profitability of the sector is therefore dependent upon finding a market for 75 per cent of the bird that is left over after removing the breast,” the summary continues.

“At present about 70 per cent of our dark meat exports are to the EU and the majority of the poultry meat that is imported into the UK, including fresh chicken breast comes from the EU.

“Maintaining this relationship is therefore vital to both the sector and the British consumer.”

The report identifies three scenarios the UK is possibly facing post-Brexit:

  • Scenario 1 Evolution which maintains the status quo
  • Scenario 2 Trade Liberalisation where the UK reverts to World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms and then unilaterally removes tariffs on imports from all countries worldwide (Including the EU.)
  • Scenario 3 Fortress UK or “no deal” where the UK fails to agree a trade deal with the EU, reverts to WTO terms and applies these to imports from the EU.

“We argue that Fortress UK represents a worst-case scenario for the poultry industry and British consumer,” says the report.

“In this scenario the UK reverts to WOTO rules, resulting in additional trade friction costs of eight per cent with the introduction of new checks to ensure regulatory equivalence that would create significant delays.”

The report goes on to say that any restrictions on the free movement of labour will result in increasing wage and labour costs of 50 per cent.

A ‘no deal’ Brexit also threatens the values which UK consumers hold.

“It presents an unprecedented challenge to the quality, availability, affordability and choice of poultry meat in the UK,” it says.

The UK has some of the highest health, environmental and welfare standards in the world.

“Should the UK fail to agree a free trade agreement (FTA) with the EU and/or unilaterally removes tariffs for all trade partners, there is a danger that UK consumers will be faced with a lowering of standards and poorer quality foods with imports from non-EU states.”

Chlorinated chicken from the US is already a concern, the report says, and the US has already said that abolishing EU health, safety and welfare standards is essential for any future trade deals with the UK.

“Given the less vigorous nature of US food standards, increasing the import of US poultry meat in a Fortress UK scenario would expose UK consumers to inferior standards at the expense of higher standard UK poultry.

“These values are important to British consumers and must not be sacrificed by the UK leaving the EU.”

Another impact of a no deal Brexit is the possibility of the creation of a two-tier food system where only the wealthy can afford to eat fresh home reared chicken because of the increased costs of production.

Rolling back the EU’s regulatory net would have ‘significant impacts’ upon the environmental sustainability of the poultry meat industry.

“Consumers and producers care about the sustainability of poultry meat and by forfeiting access to EU regulatory bodies, the UK could lose monitoring, scrutiny, transparency, accountability and enforcement powers for its environmental policies that make it Europe’s leader in this field,” says the report.

“Brexit therefore poses economic, social and environmental risks to the UK and its consumers.”

The report goes on to make a number of recommendations which could be put in place to offset the risks.

“Brexit must be used as an opportunity to re-focus our attention on British values, to state boldly that prioritising high standard, affordable and sustainable British produce, for all, is at the top of our agenda.”

Rhodimet powder gains European approval

By Matt Holmes, January 14, 2019

Rhodimet® A-Dry+, Adisseo new methionine product has been authorized as a feed additive in the European Union

Rhodimet® A-Dry+, an innovative new powder methionine product, based on the liquid methionine (OH-Methionine) technology developed by Adisseo is now authorized in European Union as a feed additive for all animal species. 

This new value-added methionine source is a formulation of Adisseo liquid OH-Methionine (Rhodimet® AT88) with a calcium salt of OH-Methionine, containing min 88% of OH-Methionine and min 8% calcium. 

Rhodimet® A-Dry+ is now authorized in all European Union Member states, as a feed additive in animal nutrition. The regulation has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union on the January 3 2019 and will enter into force on the January 23 2019.

For this product, Adisseo has built a new production unit in its Burgos industrial plant in Spain. As expected, during the first semester 2018, the production of OH-Methionine in powder at Burgos has been started and is progressively ramping-up.

With this new authorization of Rhodimet® A-Dry+ in the European Union, Adisseo will propose Rhodimet® A-Dry+ to European customers who do not have the ability to use liquid additives in their process and want to get the benefits of this OH-Methionine form (piglets feed millers, mineral producers, etc). 

Rhodimet® A-Dry+ is a calcium salt-based product where liquid OH-Methionine is sprayed on a calcium salt of OH-Methionine. This innovative process allows the product to reach a high concentration of 88% OH-Methionine and a great flowability.

With this new innovative product, Adisseo is completing its methionine sources portfolio to satisfy all customers’ needs and reinforces its position as a leader in the methionine industry.

-Ends-

BioMar icon Niels Alsted retires after 45 years in aquaculture

By Rebecca Sherratt, January 8, 2019

 

Biomar Niels Alsted

 

Niels Alsted, Executive Vice President of Business Relations in BioMar, nicknamed ‘Mr Aquaculture’ by his colleagues, has retired after 45 years of service in the aquaculture industry.

“Niels has been one of the most important people forming, not only BioMar, but also the industry. His dedication to developing a sustainable and professional aquaculture has led to industry standards and the high-end feed ranges we see in the market.

Furthermore, he has been one of the most important people forming the culture in BioMar: A culture built upon trust, relationships, professionalism and a desire to pioneer the future of the industry”, said Carlos Diaz, CEO of BioMar Group.

There are not many in the aquaculture industry who can claim 45 years of service. Niels’ career started in 1974, on a small trout farm in Denmark, before beginning his studies in aquaculture research at the University of Tromsoe, Institute of Fisheries in 1977 in Norway. He stayed in academic research for several years and was an associate professor at Aalborg University when he accepted to undertake his commercial PhD with BioMar in 1987.

Over the last 32 years, Niels has held various positions in BioMar from R&D, sourcing, food safety and business relations and has been part of the executive management team in BioMar Group where he contributed to opening new markets like Chile and China.

Niels is valued for his broad and deep technical knowledge and, while at BioMar, has published several papers on nutrition and sustainability. He was instrumental in the creation of the first ever environmentally friendly aquaculture feed product, Ecoline and is known for his scholar approach to feed product development.

Niels has represented the aquaculture industry and BioMar at numerous NGO events and been a member of various industry committees most recently chairing the Board of FEFAC and as a valued member of both the GSI feed task force and IFFO RS.

“I am very grateful to BioMar, I have seen most of the world meeting fantastic people and really enjoying my work in the aquaculture industry. I simply could not ask for more”, concluded Mr Alsted who now looks forward to spending more time with the family, but has not closed the door on potentially doing more aquaculture related projects.

Dinnissen apply for the GRAPAS Innovations Awards

Dinnissen’s Pegasus Wingdoor Mixer

Image credit: Dinnissen

 

The latest applicant for the 2019 GRAPAS Innovations Awards is Netherlands-based company, Dinnissen, with their Pegasus®Wing-Door Mixer.

Dinnissen Process Technology, founded in 1948, are machine specialists for the food and feed industries. Their Pegasus Wingdoor Mixer is one of their latest, refined designs, what ensures easy cleaning and accessibility for the food industry. The front-to-front system enables users to completely empty the mixer, whilst the large wing doors enable easy access – giving the machine an easy advantage for inspection, cleaning and a variety of purposes. The quick-action locks also create a safe, optimal environment, that is also ergonomic, for operators” ease-of-use.

The GRAPAS Innovations Awards are a yearly award, held at Victam International, and awarded to the most innovative machinery in the food industry. The winners are announced during the one-day GRAPAS Conference, on June 13th, 2019 at Victam International, attended by a variety of CEOs, directors, mill managers, plant managers and nutritionists.

Nominations are being called for from all sectors of food milling and from non-exhibiting and exhibiting companies alike. Those shortlisted for the award will have the opportunity to display their product in a special awards area at the entrance to the Victam International exhibition hall for all visitors to view. Extensive exposure will also be granted to applicants, in Milling and Grain”s magazines (in print and online), as well as on our blogs and newsletters.

How to enter

To participate a nomination must be an innovation, process or service and comply with the following:

  1. Have been introduced to the market after January 2017
  2. Be new
  3. Make a contribution to efficiency and/or safety
  4. Demonstrate significant practical value
  5. Be used in the food industry

Applications can be made by both exhibitors and non-exhibitors.

To submit your entry please contact Rebecca Sherratt (rebeccas@perendale.co.uk) and request an application form. The form must be submitted by March 31st, 2019.

As the shortlist of nominations will be displayed at Victam International 2019 for final voting, please be prepared to supply a small display (details of size and dimensions to be forwarded following application submission) to be set up in the Awards Area at Victam.

 

More information about GRAPAS is available HERE.

Discover more about Dinnissen”s product HERE.

Gove says aquaculture will be vital post- Brexit

By Matt Holmes, 04 January 2019

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said aquaculture could fill the demand for protein post-Brexit in a keynote speech to the Oxford Farming Conference.

Mr Gove warns of increased tariffs on lamb and beef exports if Britain does not strike a Brexit deal.

“We are also likely to see more and more of our need for protein met by aquaculture and cellular agriculture,” said Mr Gove.

 

“Fish farming is an increasingly efficient way of using crops to generate nutritious proteins.

“And advances in synthetic biology may allow us to create traditional animal products – from gelatine and egg whites to milk and even meat – in labs.

“The potential for Britain to lead in this revolution is huge.”

Here is the text of Mr Gove’s speech in full:

One of my favourite Radio Four programmes, second only to Farming Today, is The Long View.

Presented by the superbly talented Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland, The Long View asks us to consider current events in their historical context, draws parallels between the controversies of our time and the challenges of our past.

Few professions take a longer view than agriculture. Farmers plan, invest and produce for the long-term. While those of us in Westminster live in a world of hourly Twitter storms and daily news cycles where a week is now a very long time in politics, farming requires the patience and foresight to think in harvests and lifecycles, to see beyond the immediate and scan the far horizon.

Of course, the immediate political question which all of us must wrestle with is Brexit – and more particularly how Britain leaves the European Union in less than three months’ time. And I will address that question head on in a moment.

But first I do want to take a deliberately longer view. Because, hugely significant as the changes generated by Brexit will be, it’s important that we consider them in the broader context of the wider forces driving change in farming, food policy and our relationship with the rest of the natural world.

Because the truth is as this conference designed to underline. Our world is entering a fourth agricultural revolution.

The first revolution was the move from hunting and gathering to settlement and cultivation – which made possible the generation of surpluses, the beginning of trade and the establishment of civilisation.

The second agricultural revolution was pioneered here in Britain from the 17th through to the 19th centuries. British farmers and land owners developed more sophisticated crop rotation and new mixed farming methods which more efficiently turned pasture into protein and waste into fertiliser. Alongside the development of new seed drills, selective breeding, large-scale drainage schemes and land reclamation all these changes dramatically increased food production. That helped drive an equally dramatic increase in population numbers, which in turn sustained the industrial revolution.

The third agricultural revolution was even more significant in its scale. In the middle decades of the last century, pioneering work by visionary scientists such as Norman Borlaug, whose granddaughter is with us here today, transformed the scale of food production worldwide. New seed varieties were generated that powerfully improved yields and, alongside improvements in fertiliser manufacture, pest control and other forms of crop protection, they allowed developing nations to overcome scarcity and hunger, laying the groundwork for the global economic growth which has lifted billions out of poverty.

Now, we are on the verge of another revolution in how we produce our food.

That is why I particularly welcome what your chairman, Tom Allen-Stevens, called earlier the ‘brazenly positive’ tone of this conference. ‘We stand on the threshold of new horizons,’ Tom argued. ‘Never before has our industry been offered the World of Opportunity that presents itself here, before us, today.’

He’s right. Accelerating technological advances he mentioned such as the drive towards artificial intelligence, the more sophisticated than ever analysis of big data, drone development, machine learning and robotics will together allow us to dramatically improve productivity on traditionally farmed land not least by reducing the need for labour, minimising the imprint of vehicles on the soil, applying inputs overall more precisely, adjusting cultivation techniques more sensitively and therefore using far fewer natural resources, whether carbon, nitrogen or water, in order to maximise growth.

Data analytics, allied to sensors which monitor the health of livestock, will also allow us to develop the optimal environment for animals, helping us to get their nutrition right, safeguard their welfare and improve both dairy and meat production.

Gene-editing holds out the promise of dramatically accelerating the gains we have secured through selective breeding in the past. The ability to give Mother Nature a helping hand by driving the process of evolution at higher speed should allow us to develop plant varieties and crops which are more resistant to disease and pests and less reliant on chemical protection and chemical fertiliser. They will be higher-yielding and more environmentally sustainable.

Vertical farming, with vegetables grown in temperature, moisture and nutrition-controlled indoor environments can also guarantee improvements in yield while at the same time limiting environmental externalities. And of course, vertical farms not only minimise land use but can of course be located close to the urban population centres they serve.

We are also likely to see more and more of our need for protein met by aquaculture and cellular agriculture. Fish farming is an increasingly efficient way of using crops to generate nutritious proteins. And advances in synthetic biology may allow us to create traditional animal products – from gelatine and egg whites to milk and even meat – in labs.

The potential for Britain to lead in this revolution is huge. Which is why Tom Allen-Stevens is right to look to the future with confidence.

Of course, there are challenges. To take advantage of precision technology, AI, robotics and data analytics requires a level of capital investment which is not available to all. There are important ethical, and economic, questions about gene-editing which we need to debate. Vertical farming relies on energy inputs which are currently costly and carbon-intensive. Fish farming of course generates its own environmental externalities. And lab-grown proteins, meanwhile, are very far from everyone’s idea of a mouth-watering treat – and are currently extremely expensive.

But while there are big questions we need to debate about how we handle these new technologies – and where better to debate them than at the Oxford Farming Conference? – we cannot wish away these changes any more than we can ignore having to deal with the impact of climate change, air pollution, soil depletion, global population growth, the stress placed on water resources, the tide of plastic in our oceans, deforestation and biodiversity loss.

Because the background against which this fourth agricultural revolution is occurring – indeed many of the stimuli for it – are the environmental and social factors I’ve just, briefly, listed.

The requirement to use less carbon, to limit the nitrous oxide entering our atmosphere and the nitrates entering our rivers, to improve the organic content and fertility of our soil, to renew, reuse and recycle finite natural resources and yet, at the same time, to also improve resource productivity as the human population grows, all these are the forces driving technological innovation.

Science is thus both making us aware of why agriculture needs to change and also enabling that change to meet our needs.

This fourth agricultural revolution will therefore require us to change the way we work on the land and invest in its future, will force us to reform the role of Government in regulating and supporting farming; will demand new thinking and new talent in food production, and will, inevitably, require tough choices to be made. For some, the adjustment will be undoubtedly challenging.

But no change is not an option.

Reform is vital to modernise the sector and capitalise on technological advances. In 2016/17, more than half of the UK’s farms earned less than £20,000 and a fifth made no profit at all. As John Varley of Clinton Estates observes: ‘These statistics would make most investors that are not looking for tax breaks steer well clear.’

If, however, we embrace the potential of the fourth revolution we can guarantee the future of the United Kingdom as a major global food producer; we can play our part in alleviating poverty and scarcity; we can replenish our store of natural capital, secure investment for the innovations in tackling waste, pollution and emissions which the world will increasingly need – and hand on both a healthier economy and an enriched environment to the next generation. So as the German statesman Otto von Bismarck once put it, ‘If revolution there is to be, far better to undertake it than undergo it.’

So today I hope to outline how Defra sees its role in the midst of this fourth revolution – with respect to all the areas for which the department is responsible – food, the rural economy, and our environment.

Thinking strategically about food

Food first.

Food production has been a success story for Britain. Food and drink is our biggest manufacturing sector, with our food and drink contributing £113 billion to the economy every year. And the consumer has benefited from the enterprise and innovation of our food producers. British citizens have a wider choice of high-quality food than ever before and the cost of food for the consumer has fallen significantly in recent decades.

We have safe, nutritious, affordable food in abundance in this country because of our farmers – their hard work, enterprise and commitment.

But we cannot take this bounty for granted. And nor can we ignore the looming problems that we face.

In a world facing the pressures I listed earlier, how do we provide food security for this country? Do the economics of contemporary food production add up? How do we help those, in this country, and across the globe, who are living in poverty? The diet is central to health, does our approach to food currently maximise human well-being? And critically what do we think is required to make food production in this country truly sustainable?

The fourth agricultural revolution would require us to rethink the future of food in any case, but if coming scientific and technical innovations are to be harnessed wisely, and in harmony with human flourishing, then we need as a country to have a much wider, and more informed, debate about food.

That is why I have asked Defra’s lead non-executive director, the food entrepreneur Henry Dimbleby, to lead on the development of a new Food Strategy. He will be visiting farms and food producers and working with people across the industry to ensure we ask the right questions.

On food security, for example, I think that it is critical that we conceptualise the challenge properly. Our food security currently rests on both healthy domestic food production and of course global trading links.

Healthy domestic production in the future is likely to require not just investment in new technology but are also improving the resilience of the environment on which we depend for future growth. So food security in the future should mean for example, returning soils to robust health, and improving their organic content.

It should also mean keeping pollinator numbers healthy and improving animal welfare and husbandry to minimise health problems and disease risk.

It will probably also require us to build in resilience and flexibility to our agricultural sector so we can deal with changes we cannot anticipate by ensuring we having diversity in the size and type of farm business in this country.

And it also means guarding against those looming changes we can foresee – taking steps to minimise flood risk, adapt to climate change and safeguard biodiversity so we have a rich bank of natural capital on which to draw for the future.

Food security necessarily also involves providing consumers not just with a plentiful and resilient supply of food but with guarantees on provenance and welfare. Which is why the new Livestock Information Programme which Minette Batters has championed and helped to secure this year is so important. It will enable us to reassure domestic consumers on the safety of our produce as well as securing a competitive edge in a world market where quality is increasingly key.

Now of course with respect to future trade, we know that there will always be food, and materials required for food production, which we will have to source from abroad.

But we also know that climate change is going to have an impact on the resilience, and range, of food production in other countries particularly in the global south – so countries like our own will have to play an even more important role in world food production.

And if we are to maintain our own resilience and reputation for quality, that means we must maintain our own high environmental and animal welfare standards, and we must not barter them away in pursuit of a necessarily short-term trade-off.

And that takes me to another one of the key questions about the economics of food production. Affordable food for every citizen is a key goal of public policy. But we should be clear about the real costs of food production.

Beef or soybeans produced to scale on land in other countries that have been cleared of vast hectares of forests may appear cheap but in fact such food is costing the earth. The loss of forest cover imposes environmental costs on all of us, as valuable carbon sinks disappear and a defence against climate change is dismantled. The argument that we can lower the cost of food by importing from countries that have pursued deforestation policies ignores the fact that we all have to pay for the environmental damage in other ways.

There are, of course, other key economic questions the food strategy must address. While consumers have enjoyed the benefits of increased efficiency in British farming why have farmers not reaped anything like the same benefits?

Compared with a generation ago, it is often the case that farmers receive a lower share of the money that we, the public, hand over to supermarkets and other food retailers. That’s in part because of post-farm gate innovation, and supermarkets offering consumers added value – scrubbed potatoes; chickens seasoned and sold in roasting bags – which customers are happy to pay more for, but that innovation has inevitably reduced the percentage of the final price which has gone to the farmer.

So as farmers become even more efficient, and get an even better return per hectare – how can we ensure that we have a profitable farm sector alongside low prices for good food?

Part of the answer is greater transparency. The more information we have – and especially the more information an increasingly discerning public have when they make consumer choices – the better markets work. And if markets aren’t working because some players are operating unfairly or anti-competitively, then government should intervene.

Intervention is also required when it comes to health. The growth in obesity, the acceleration in numbers of patients with Type 2 Diabetes, the spiralling in cases of diet-related heart disease and cancers, all require us to look at the impact of what we eat on how we live, and die.

This challenge, however, requires very careful handling. A crude attempt to label certain foods, meat and dairy, as somehow inherently unhealthy does not do justice to the scale and complexity of the problem and neither does crude calorie labelling.

A proper food strategy must look more widely at the socio-economic factors and trends relating to diet and health problems such as obesity, diabetes and other diet-related illnesses. The fact that these problems disproportionately affect more disadvantaged sectors of society should offend our sense of social justice. That’s why we need to ask searching questions about just where, how and why poor diet occurs – and seek answers.

I want our Food Strategy to be ambitious, to ask big questions, to challenge lazy orthodoxies. To place food security on a sounder footing, enable food producers to plan for the future with confidence, provide a proper understanding of the real economics of the food industry, harness the potential of new technology to improve productivity, make that productivity growth genuinely sustainable – and to improve the nation’s health. I see our Food Strategy as another opportunity for Britain to show a lead in this world of opportunity.

Of course there is already one conspicuous way in which we do lead the world in terms of food. Our universities are home to some of the most respected agriculture, food and environmental science, vet medicine, land management, chemistry, zoology and botany departments in the world. A new generation of farmers, scientists, bio and agri-tech entrepreneurs are already reinforcing Britain’s reputation as a centre of excellence in innovation.

But I want us to go further. There is a huge opportunity for British talent to shape the Fourth Agricultural Revolution. We need to ensure we attract even more talent people into the food and farming industry.

I have been hugely encouraged in that regard by the work of colleagues such as Don Curry, Fiona Kendrick, Peter Kendall and Minette Batters who have been collaborating to think creatively about the skills and talent we will need in the future to maintain leadership in the food production sector.

And we will be saying more about what Government can do to help when recommendations come forward through the Food and Drink Sector Council but I have already been discussing with the Business Secretary Greg Clark and the new Higher Education and Science Minister Chris Skidmore the need for all us collectively to show even greater ambition.

Enhancing the environment for rural businesses

Now of course, food is at the heart of every farming business and farming is the backbone of the rural economy. Our ambition at Defra to lead the world in our thinking about food depends on our ability in the first place to maintain a healthy farming sector and overall a robust rural economy. That in turn requires us to think about the role of Government in supporting all those who work and live in the countryside.

We have already pledged to spend the same level on farm support in cash terms after we leave the European Union right up to the end of this Parliament. That is and often forgotten a greater degree of security over future funding for farming than that enjoyed by any other existing EU nation.

I recognise, however, that farming, because it is a quintessentially long-term business, benefits from as much certainty as possible about the future. And with the scale of change coming that I mentioned earlier, the more assurance we can provide the better.

I cannot, here, entirely pre-empt the outcome of the Government’s Spending Review. But both the Chancellor and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury are committed to using that review to support growth, encourage technological innovation, demonstrate British leadership in areas of business excellence as well as spreading prosperity more equitably across the country. So if we can embrace the changes I’ve been discussing today, we will ensure British agriculture, and the rural economy more widely, will be able to benefit in that Spending Review. Embracing change, supporting reform is the key to unlocking the Treasury’s special box.

But while I cannot pre-empt the outcome of the Spending Review I can continue to demonstrate the case for, and put in place the policies that will underpin, long-term investment.

That is why we have secured a seven-year agricultural transition, beyond the 21-month transition period set out in the EU Withdrawal Agreement, to enable farm businesses to plan ahead.

That is also why we have published proposals to allow for agricultural support payments to be rolled forward into a lump sum which can used now to re-model farm businesses for the future.

And it is also why we have commissioned a review by Lord Bew of Donnegore to look at what factors should be taken into account to ensure an equitable intra-UK allocation of domestic farm support funding.

And, again, in advance of the Spending Review the government has also made a commitment to invest in the extension and improvement of rural broadband coverage. In the Budget the government announced that it would invest a further £200m over the next two years providing full fibre broadband in rural areas. This is in line with the ‘outside-in approach’ set out in last year’s Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review, which committed to connecting remote rural areas so that the UK has a truly nationwide, state-of-the-art, broadband network at last.

Because we all now, the potential of the Fourth Agricultural Revolution will only be fully realised if we ensure the very best levels of digital connectivity across rural Britain and that is why this investment has been prioritised.

All of these investments sit alongside our other commitments to invest in rural communities. In our Agriculture Bill we make provision for payments to improve productivity specifically, to support collaboration and to help rural businesses cope with change. It is critically important that we support efforts to bring farmers together, and also support innovation and collaboration – because that will help ensure that we keep a wide range of different farm businesses resilient in the face of change.

As I mentioned earlier in the context of food security, it is particularly important that we are sensitive to the need of smaller farmers, because I’m acutely aware that for many of them, the changes in how we provide support and the changes in how technology will affect food production raise real challenges. But in many parts of the country it is smaller farmers who preserve, in the words of the Prince of Wales, the culture in agriculture. From the Lake District to Exmoor, from East Sussex to Teesdale, there is alongside our natural environment a delicate human ecology we need to consider, we also need to consider the natural environment as we seek to conserve and enhance.

And in reflecting on the challenges faced by smaller farmers, especially livestock farmers, it is important to be straight about the really significant challenge which would be posed by a no deal Brexit.

Now as I suspect some of you may know, I argued for Britain to leave the European Union and I believe strongly that our departure allows us to rejuvenate our democracy, make power more accountable, escape from the bureaucratic straitjacket of the CAP and develop a more vibrant farming sector with access to technologies the EU is turning its back on.

Leaving the EU also means we can end support for inefficient area-based payments which as we know reward the already wealthy and hold back innovation, and we can move to support genuine productivity enhancement – and also support public goods like clean air or climate change mitigation which stem from the improvement of soil health, the improvement of water quality and or the improvement of pollinator habitats. We can also better support our organic farming, landscape restoration and biodiversity enrichment; as well as improving public access to the countryside.

All of these are real gains which our departure from the EU can bring risk, but these real gains risk being undermined if we leave the EU without a deal.

Of course, a nation as adaptable, resilient and creative as ours can and will flourish over time, even without a deal.

But the turbulence which would be generated by our departure without a deal would be considerable. As I said earlier, it would hit those who are our smaller farmers and smaller food businesses.

I know that some of the predictions about what might happen without a deal have been dismissed as another episode of Project Fear, a re-run of the lurid claims in the 2016 referendum that a vote to leave would trigger an automatic recession.

At the time, I vigorously rejected those projections and indeed was criticised by some for being too dismissive of expert opinion. Well, no recession came and the economic forecasts turned out to be unfounded. But while Project Fear proved to be fiction, when we look at what a no-deal Brexit could involve we do need to be clear about the costs and facts.

A no-deal Brexit means we would face overall tariff rates of around 11% on agricultural products. But some sectors would be much more severely affected.

According to the AHDB’s excellent Horizon report, we export around 15% of our beef production and around a third of lamb. In both cases about 90% of that export trade goes to the EU. Some of that trade is routed through Rotterdam to other markets beyond the EU but most of it goes to European consumers.

It’s a grim but inescapable fact that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the effective tariffs on beef and sheep meat would be above 40% – in some cases well above that.

While exchange rates might take some of the strain, the costs imposed by new tariffs would undoubtedly exceed any adjustment in the currency markets. And, of course, if the pound does make exports more competitive, it also feeds inflationary pressures at home.

Tariffs are not the only issue. While the EU have pledged to accelerate the process whereby the UK is recognised as a third country and we can continue to export food to their markets freely, all products of animal origin will have to go through border inspection posts and, at the moment, the EU have said 100% of products will face sanitary and phytosanitary checks.

Much of our trade currently reaches European markets through the narrow straits between Dover and Calais. At the moment there are no border inspection posts at Calais. While we do hope the French take steps to build capacity there, that capacity is unlikely by the end of March to be generous.

The EU have also said that hauliers from the UK can carry export goods to EU markets but they cannot make multiple journeys from EU country to EU country and thus the costs of haulage could rise as well.

The combination of significant tariffs when none exist now, friction and checks at the border when none exist now and requirements to re-route or pay more for transport when current arrangements are frictionless, will all add to costs for producers.

As will new labelling requirements, potential delays in the recognition of organic products, potentially reduced labour flows and the need to provide export health certificates for the EU market which are not needed now.

Of course we can, and are at Defra, doing everything to mitigate those costs and are developing plans to help support the industry in a variety of contingencies. But nobody can be blithe or blasé about the real impact on food producers of leaving without a deal.

That is just one of the reasons why I hope my colleagues in Parliament support the Prime Minister’s deal. It isn’t perfect – but we should never make the perfect the enemy of the good. It not only gives us a 21-month transition period in which current access is completely unaffected, it also allows us to maintain continuous tariff-free and quota-free access to EU markets for our exporters after that, allows us to diverge from EU regulation in many areas after the transition; means that we will leave the Common Agricultural Policy and it also ends all mandatory payments to the EU.

If Parliament doesn’t back the Prime Minister’s deal all those gains will be put at risk. If we do secure support for the deal, however, then we can forge ahead with further reforms which can put Britain in a world-leading position, not just in food production but also in the wise stewardship of our natural assets.

The critical business of enhancing the environment

Outside the EU and the CAP we can reward farmers for the goods they generate which are not rewarded in the market.

Our proposed Environmental Land Management contracts will provide farmers and other land managers with a pipeline of income to supplement the money they make from food production, forestry and other business activities. ELMs should be seen as an additional crop, with the Government, rather than a commercial player, entering into a contract with farmers to ensure we increase the provision of environmental services, many of which will also enhance farm productivity.

ELM payments are designed not just to complement existing sources of income but also complement existing initiatives many farmers already pursue.

For example, the adoption of minimum tillage techniques can not only decrease costs and improve productivity but it also reduces run-off and erosion. That is a public good which contributes to improving water quality and for which farmers could be paid.

Similarly, farmers who have chosen to go organic can secure a premium in the market for their produce but their contribution to improving the level of organic matter in our soil also leads to more carbon sequestration and broader environmental resilience. These public goods too could be rewarded.

Uplands livestock farmers, including commoners of course, are responsible for maintaining some of our most iconic landscapes in the condition which not just sustains their farm businesses but also acts as a habitat for precious native species. Improved habitats with more diverse wildlife – which are likely to attract tourist income to less favoured areas – are also a public good we could recognise.

Equally, farmers could be rewarded for enhancing the natural capital of which they are stewards – protecting ancient woodland, bringing woodland under active management or restoring peat bogs. These all generate public goods by adding to our carbon storage, boosting air quality, tackling global warming, and also improving water quality.

And because we recognise that farming is a long-term business we believe these public goods should be paid for through multi-annual contracts.

I recognise that there will be wariness among some about how we propose to administer these contracts because the recent record of delivery with environmental and countryside stewardship payments has been so woeful.

But recent changes at both Natural England and the Rural Payments Agency are beginning to address the problems we face. And we are relentlessly focused on how to streamline the bureaucracy we have inherited under the CAP to ensure farmers can concentrate on their core business of sustainable food production and enhancement of our natural capital.

That is why I commissioned Dame Glenys Stacey to look at the whole landscape of farm regulation and inspection. Her report, which is a brilliant analysis of how to make inspection more proportionate, focused and effective, makes clear that outside the EU and the CAP we can have less onerous inspection, simpler regulation and greater confidence in the maintenance of high standards. Just as I believe we can be world leaders in food production and environmental enhancement so I believe we can, building on Dame Glenys’s work, set the global gold standard in trusted, transparent and efficient regulation of farming.

There is a world of opportunity for British agriculture if we are prepared to embrace the opportunities that our policy reforms and the wider technological revolution can bring.

With an ambitious new Food Strategy, a properly funded 25 Year Environment Plan, rising investment in agritech, world-leading centres of agricultural science, a new generation of entrepreneurs in the food industry, an innovative new system of support for the provision of environmental services and, above all, farmers across the country committed to demonstrating leadership in everything they do – I believe this country, just as it led the Great Agricultural Revolution of the 18th century can be the vanguard nation for this century’s New Agricultural Revolution. And I look forward to the participants in this Oxford Farming Conference leading the way.

China breaks through with dark side landing

By Matt Holmes 03 January 2019

 

Exciting times for space exploration today as China announces it has landed on the “dark side” of the moon.

The BBC reports that China has successfully landed a robotic spacecraft on the far side of the Moon, the first ever such attempt and landing.

At 10:26 Beijing time (02:26 GMT), the un-crewed Chang’e-4 probe touched down in the South Pole-Aitken Basin, state media reports.

It is carrying instruments to analyse the unexplored region’s geology, as well to conduct biological experiments.

The landing is being seen as a major milestone in space exploration.

There have been numerous missions to the Moon in recent years, but the vast majority have been to orbit, fly by or impact. The last crewed landing was Apollo 17 in 1972.

What the landing means for the future of space exploration is yet to be determined but China is a dominant force in the world. It is an industrial powerhouse and as we have seen with this latest moon landing, China is at the forefront of space exploration.

Erik de Graaff joins Van Aarsen International as new Sales Director

Van Aarson has appointed Erik de Graaff as a new Sales Director.

Erik de Graaff

Erik de Graaff

Erik developed from Salesman to General Manager and Sales Director, with both national and international responsibilities.

During his career he worked in different industry fields, both national and international, but the majority of his working years he has been active in the area of solids handling and processing in several industries like (pet-)food, plastics and the chemical industry. The last decade he has been in the area of pelleting, grinding and conditioning in, amongst others, the animal feed industry.

This specific knowledge and his broad experience has given the Van Aarsen management team enough confidence to appoint him as the new Sales Director.

Erik intends to strengthen the global position of Van Aarsen as one of the leading companies in feed mill design and construction. By strengthening the agent network, creation of partnerships with customers and further development of the sales team, his aim is to secure the continuous growth of Van Aarsen

He is proud to be part of an experienced group of experts, and is always striving to serve our global customers in the compound feed industry to his best abilities.

Van Aarsen International is a developer, manufacturer and supplier of state-of-the-art machines and complete feed mill solutions for the production of compound feed and premixes.

Stand bookings underway for new “EuroTier Middle East” trade fair

 

By Matt Holmes, 24 December, 2018

EuroTier Middle East to debut in the United Arab Emirates from 2nd to 4th September 2019

Exhibition stand bookings are now being taken for “EuroTier Middle East”, the new event’s organisers, the DLG (German Agricultural Society) and its local partner of the new show in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA), have announced.

Taking place at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), in Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s capital, from 2nd to 4th September 2019, the new trade fair will be one of three new EuroTier-branded events to take place next year outside Germany, where the parent exhibition – EuroTier – is held.

The agreement to jointly host the EuroTier Middle East exhibition was announced in November this year at EuroTier, the leading trade fair for animal production, which attracts about 2,600 exhibitors and some 155,000 visitors.

The new event will benefit from the EuroTier brand, which offers a comprehensive overview of global topics and trends in modern animal husbandry in the poultry and dairy sectors, and species relevant to Europe and their corresponding cross-species inputs such as feed.

According to a recent report commissioned by Gulfood, Middle East North Africa (MENA) has the fastest and highest meat market growth rate of any region in the world at almost 30 percent. Between now and 2021 the livestock products market is expected to reach US$6.6 billion.

“We recognise the high growth momentum in MENA and the importance of the livestock industry to the wider region. We will place the ADFCA and the UAE at the centre of this growth, and through EuroTier Middle East 2019 we will facilitate sustainable and commercial development of the meat market,” said His Excellency Saeed Albahri Salem Alameri, Director General of ADFCA.

“In the MENA region, consumers spend the highest proportion, 24 percent, of their food budget on meat. This is driving the growth and momentum of the industry. We want the global meat industry to take notice of this consumer demand and react by bringing their best market-driven ideas and innovations to EuroTier Middle East 2019,” added Mr. Alameri. “Breeding and farming animals that match consumer quality expectations, and processing facilities that deliver what the customer demands are critical to meeting the growth predictions for the region.

“EuroTier has a reputation for bringing the latest innovations and technologies to the industry, and we are 100 percent behind making sure that the world’s best innovators and experts exhibit and attend EuroTier Middle East.”

“At from EuroTier 2018 in Hanover we met with a range of exhibitors to discuss the new EuroTier Middle East trade fair,” said Saskia Zuleger, Show Director, DLG International. “There is a definite interest in this region. Many of the exhibitors want to bring technical solutions to the MENA market and present them directly there,” added Zuleger

Figures from the United Nations’ (UN) Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) suggest there are now about 143 million sheep, 73 million goats and 49 million cattle in MENA countries, while the UN’s Comtrade database reveals that the UAE imported live animals worth $204 million and meat and edible offal worth $1.63 billion in 2016.

At the same time, there are a number of challenges facing livestock farmers in the region. These include a lack of official channels to help producers sell their produce; a focus on meat production that tends to ignore milk production and other animal products; a lack of outlets for co-products such as wool and dung; different regulatory environments in MENA nations; and a lack of governmental investment in biosecurity across the region.

“This environment for animal farming in the MENA area makes EuroTier Middle East the perfect platform to pull the livestock sector together and point the way for its development in the future,” said Jens Kremer, Director Business Development, DLG Exhibitions. “Animal husbandry professionals will be provided with a comprehensive insight into the various production and marketing segments for both specific species and across all product categories. And this will be supplemented with technical programmes that will be tailored to regional topics by the DLG in cooperation with international and national partners.”

The first EuroTier trade fair – the name literally translates from German as “Euro animal” – was launched by DLG in 1993 at Hanover’s Exhibition Grounds and now takes place every two years. Trade fairs have been an important part of the DLG’s activities since it was founded in 1885. Its portfolio also includes the world-leading farm machinery exhibition Agritechnica, as well as 40 other exhibitions and events in numerous countries worldwide.

The DLG is a non-profit, politically independent, international organisation with a global network in agriculture and the food industry. Together with its subsidiaries, it offers internationally recognised platforms for the discussion of agricultural topics, trends and strategies, as well as leading business marketplaces for companies to tap into new markets and customers.

More information can be found by visiting  www.dlg.org or https://www.dlg-tradefairs.com