Examination of Witnesses

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:00 pm on 25th October 2018.

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Professor Millstone:

I certainly agree that the Bill addresses certain aspects of farming, but clearly the National Farmers Union thinks that there are rather important aspects that are not mentioned. As my colleague Professor Marsden says, it is almost completely in abstraction from food, which there is nothing about.

May I please briefly go back to David Drew’s question about institutions and pick up on Vicki’s point about education and training and Terry’s about the need for transformation? Previously, we had the Agricultural Development and Advisory Service, which performed two important functions. First, it disseminated information and knowledge about innovations and new products and processes to farmers. But it also performed a second function, which was gathering information from farmers about the problems to which they would like solutions that the research and development on innovations could provide. When ADAS was abolished, it was essentially replaced by a commercial marketing and sales system, and that second function disappeared in the UK. It remains present in Denmark, the Netherlands, Austria and many other countries, which accounts for why their agriculture is both more productive and more sustainable than UK agriculture. There is scope for important institutional development in that regard.