Decision-making is the name of the game at the moment, or perhaps lack thereof, as we wait on our democratically elected members of parliament to come up with a grand plan for the future of this country. Meanwhile, the UK agricultural industry waits with bated breath in a tense state between business continuity, and ‘what if’ scenarios aspiring for a better future for rural communities nationwide. How do we get through such tiresome times?
Well, a good place to start is to remember and support five key trends in agriculture that have continued to grow this year despite, and for many of them in response to, such uncertainty.
Education has risen higher on the agenda quite significantly over the past couple of years, as policy-makers consider a framework for agriculture in a post-CAP, post-Brexit era. Industry-led educational initiatives play a significant role in promoting the image of agriculture, and greater public and government support. This is Ag, Just Farmers, Mission4Milk and Facetime A Farmer are just some of the initiatives that have hit the ground running this year, with the aim of fueling open dialogue about the industry with the general public and policy-makers, and awareness of why it remains an attractive place to pursue a career as well as a force for good in our communities and environment.
There is a hive of activity going on in the Ag tech arena ploughing through the political upheaval thanks to the commitment of stakeholders in the public and private sectors nationally and worldwide. Through our work both with Agri-Tech East and on the ground with farmers, the effect of innovation on UK agriculture is clear, and the commercialisation of precision agriculture is in the here and now of 2019, as much as it is in the future. With uncertainty around access to tools and the regulatory climate, it is important to remember the role of Ag Tech in the UK this year and the innovative directions it is heading in.
After working with Farmer’s Weekly last year with their Fit2Farm initiative it’s amazing to see the positive reception of the trending mental health and wellbeing movement at a national scale, finding its feet in the UK food and farming industries. FCN wrote an article for us recently, highlighting the impact of Brexit on the anticipated increase in workload of their 400 + volunteers in the UK. This movement has already proven to be a positive tool for rural communities this year and an example of proactive action. The uncertainty we are all experiencing is a challenge and so are many historic features of our industry, there is a lot to do so please remember and support people being active to support others.
If we are serious about a vibrant post-Brexit policy framework for agriculture, then we must get serious about involving emerging decision-makers who will be well-established in their careers in UK agriculture by the 2030s. The growth of the youth movement through initiatives such as the Rural Youth Project, the Youth Ag Summit and the Thought For Food Challenge, are encouraging more cross-generational decision-making. These are welcome and important developments and are paving the way for greater involvement of emerging leaders
The diversity campaign has gone up a gear it seems over the past year, and so it should as we head into 2019. If we are to get through the next few years of upheaval, we must nurture talent, initiative and commitment wherever they are. Movements such as Agrespect, and women in food and farming are important to embrace, because openness, tolerance and respect provide great opportunities for innovation and diverse problem-solving skills to add significant value to an already world-class industry. I won’t go on about this too much, but I would encourage you to see this through the brilliance of psychologist Dr Carol Dweck who talks about fixed and growth mind-sets as some food for thought.
There are plenty more examples of the key trends highlighted, and I could spend endless amounts of timing talking about the important role each initiative plays. Either way, I hope you consider these developments in the Ag industry positive assets that with your support can really make a difference for a vibrant future!