A year on since the Sentry conference on farming for the future post-Brexit, and agriculture continues to experience the full throttle of the 'VUCA' world - volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. An acronym coined by business management experts in the 1990s, seeking ways to combat and measure success in such a world is firmly on the minds of all sectors in the UK but especially farming since the vote to leave the EU.
This year's Sentry conference entitled 'British Farming: Delivering value whilst upholding values' delved in to the five foundational areas of a business - values, market focus, risk management, partnerships and talents. How we optimise these areas moving forward, and create opportunities out of the challenges ahead which are increasingly of a political nature is essential to British farming's survival not just as individual businesses, but as a collective whole.
With a perfect 'VUCA' storm of a snap election last year, volatile commodity prices, and an uncertain future for crop protection as the tension builds between emotion and science it is very easy to look at 2018 and groan with the weight of political fatigue. How can we possible see success for British farming in such a complex system? In response to the big questions that Sentry asked at the conference, here are three ways we seek to deliver and uphold values of British farming.
Last year Bayer embarked on a new and exciting strategic partnership with Rothamsted Research which holds a world-class reputation as a centre of scientific excellence in plant science.
The aim is to develop a framework that ensures more effective scientific collaborations that produce customised agronomic solutions for farmers. For British farming to uphold values of producing good quality, safe and nutritious food we must look to scientific innovation that is pioneering, but also a generator of productive, smart farming that supports British farming businesses now and in the future. The more we work on collaborations that are deliverable and beneficial to the farmer, the better the outcomes of farm businesses, food security, and the environment as a sustainable system.
We are undergoing a cultural shift in British farming towards a more inclusive approach to how we grow our food.
Thinking outside the box is the new norm with open innovation hitting the agri-tech scene. This is especially apparent when it comes to the influx of agricultural visionaries who are taking their passion for social justice, food security, the digital revolution and the environment into a career in agriculture pushing the boundaries and adding a healthy dose of disruptive market thinking into the mix.
The Youth Agricultural Summit is a fantastic example of the sort of energy that young people bring as talent for the future of British farming. Our four delegates from the UK and Ireland arrived at the Summit in Brussels last October with no farming background yet aspire to raise awareness of the role of plant science in food security, careers in agriculture, and engage in the future of food policy and the future of food. Emily, Luca, Sophie and Luke then followed up the Summit with a presentation in Westminster at the All Party Parliamentary Group on Science and Technology in Agriculture bringing their perspective as the future talent of the industry to UK agricultural policy.
Working with the general public, the people we are responsible for feeding and nourishing, to share the values of British farming is at the forefront of our minds this year.
One example of this is the Border Union Agricultural Society education day in Kelso on the Scottish Borders. Each year 1,500 school children aged 10 years old from 64 schools (thankfully accompanied by 100 teachers) attend the show ground and receive a holistic insight into all aspects of the agri-food sectors. As key sponsors of the show, we have taken much pleasure in enthusing the next generation of plant scientists, entomologists, agronomists and farmers as we speak to them about the importance of looking after the crops farmers grow to feed changing global demographics and consumer behaviors, whilst working with the environment using smart farming. Even if many of the kids that day consider other career pathways in the future, we have at least exposed them to where their food comes from and the important role that British farming plays in adding value to their lives. This of course is just one of many fantastic initiatives out there that strive daily to facilitate a more supportive dialogue between the people of agri-food communities and the end consumer.
So what will you do this year that delivers and upholds the values of British farming? How engaged are you with ensuring the general public understand the ways in which British farming adds value to their own lives? Are you working in partnership to ensure we are working better together for a more sustainable future?
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