BASIS Points Available Webinar - 10th June - New era, new challenges - 10:30 to 11:15

What is the biggest challenge facing your business?

  • Covid 19

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Drought and weather extremes

    Votes: 3 50.0%
  • Market and trading uncertainties

    Votes: 1 16.7%
  • Knowing how new ag polices and ELMS will impact your business

    Votes: 2 33.3%
  • Pest and disease management

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters

Chaired by Jane King, AHDB

What impact will Coronavirus have now and in the future for UK farmers, food security and global trade

• Victoria Prentis, DEFRA Minister of Agriculture, provides an update on the Government's support for farmers in light of C19 and how it will work with industry to recover and prosper.
• Prof Tim Benton, Chatham House, explores how food security has taken on a new imperative in light of the global pandemic and some countries moving towards food protectionism
• Minette Batters, NFU President reviews the opportunities and challenges for UK arable farmers presented by the current situation
• Dr Ludivine Petetin from Cardiff University reviews how Coronavirus and Brexit are impacting and informing the UK's food security and trading position



Jane King

Jane King, CEO - AHDB

Victoria Prentis

Victoria Prentis, Defra Minister

Minette Batters

Minette Batters, NFU President

Ludivine Petetin

Ludivine Petetin, Senior Lecturer in Law - the School of Law and Politics of Cardiff University

Tim Benton

Tim Benton - Chatham House

Chris F

Staff Member

OSR becoming a niche crop as imports are using neonics. It is import that imports should operate by the same rules and not offshore production.
Cereals LIVE Q&A

Answers from Victoria Prentice

Will sustainable, managed bee farming be included in ELMs particularly under point 1?

Founded on the principle of “public money for public goods”, Environmental Land Management (ELM) is intended to provide a powerful vehicle for achieving the goals of the 25 Year Environment Plan and commitment to net zero emissions. Land managers will be paid for delivering the following public goods set out in the 25 Year Environment Plan:
  • clean air;
  • clean and plentiful water;
  • thriving plants and wildlife;
  • protection from and mitigation of environmental hazards;
  • beauty, heritage and engagement with the environment;
  • mitigation of and adaptation to climate change.
We will determine in more detail what ELM will pay for as we further develop the scheme and will engage stakeholders at the appropriate point.

As part of our commitment to co-designing the scheme with stakeholders, we have reopened the ELM Policy Discussion Document for feedback.

This Document sets out our initial thinking for ELM scheme design, providing an update on progress and an overview of high-level design options.

The policy discussion will remain open for responses until 31st July.

We will also be running interactive online seminars for farmers, foresters and land managers in England, to discuss what our proposals mean for them. These will be held on the following dates:
  • Thursday, 16th July – 8:30-10:00 am
  • Thursday, 23rd July – 12:00-1:30 pm
  • Tuesday, 28th July – 8:30-10:00 am
  • Thursday, 30th July - 6:00-7:30 pm

To respond to the Policy Discussion Document and for details of how to register for the online seminars, please visit:

We will analyse all responses submitted by the deadline and publish an update later this year.

Is Defra going to support the NFU plan that Defra will underwrite the planting of OSR this autumn?

The NFU asked us to consider a short-term policy solution to support oilseed rape in the UK until a longer-term, sustainable solution could be found. While we have given this careful thought, we do not consider an insurance scheme to be an effective way of supporting the crop, farmers, or the crushing industry. Naturally, this will not prevent industry moving forward independently with insurance schemes.

Given that the future of oilseed rape in the UK requires finding agronomic practices that allow farms to grow the crop with confidence, research and development for an agronomic solution will be a really important next step.

Defra already funds the Oilseed Rape Genetic Improvement Network (OREGIN). OREGIN is now in its fifth round of funding. The current five-year project is worth approximately £1.2 million and will end in March 2023. This project is part of a breeding platform dedicated to improving the resource efficiency, sustainability and resilience of UK crops. The work is developing freely available genetic tools and resources, particularly around pre-breeding, and facilitating research networks, knowledge exchange, and the development of further research opportunities.

While there is no quick solution for the agronomic problems oilseed rape faces, we are confident that this is a crop that has a future in the UK. We will continue to work closely with NFU and other stakeholders on the issues facing oilseed rape, as we move forward into a new era for UK agriculture.

The new era needs to recognise that human vulnerability to disease and pests is far greater than most people realise. What is the new Agricultural Bill going to do to address this by creating an opportunity to implement technologies which are available but have been ‘outlawed’ by Europe?

The UK Government has been clear that it does not agree with EU rules on precision breeding technologies and it has also been clear about its ambition to take a more scientific approach. The Prime Minister made this point very early on in his premiership. We need new legislation to change the current rules but we will not adopt a new approach without consulting the public first.

When will the Government give grants for winter storage?

At the moment there are no plans to offer grants for winter storage.

The NFU and the devolved administrations form part of Defra’s Food Chain Emergency Liaison Group (FCELG). This forum has and will continue to meet regularly to discuss the impact of COVID 19 on the food and farming sectors across the UK, and what actions are needed to support the sector.

The UK Agricultural Market Monitoring Group (UKAMMG) has been meeting weekly, with effect from 18 March. Its aim is to monitor UK agricultural markets and provide forewarning of any atypical market movements.

This will help prepare the evidence base for a possible range of interventions needed in specific markets, or specific geographical regions.

Shouldn't we be making sure our regulations are world-class rather than using current rules to impose non-tariff barriers to better, safer and more sustainable imports?

The UK is justly proud of its world-leading food safety standards. These are the high standards British consumers expect from the food they eat and the high standards our hardworking farmers will continue to deliver. Both the Government’s manifesto and our published negotiation objectives for future trade agreements made it clear that we will not compromise our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food safety standards. The EU Withdrawal Act will transfer all existing EU food safety provisions, including existing import requirements, onto the UK statute book. The UK will decide how we set and maintain our own standards and regulations and operate our own autonomous Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards regime, and without exception, all imports into the UK will meet our stringent food safety standards. We are a world leader in these areas and that will not change.

Can we move to be less reliant on imports, perhaps through use of technology (e.g. indoor farming) or research (development of UK climate tolerant plant breeds?)

Defra supports a major, long-term research platform for the genetic improvement of arable crops and fresh produce. Known as Genetic Improvement Networks (GINs), these research projects aim to improve the main UK crops towards increased productivity by being grown more efficiently, with reduced environmental impact and increased economic potential. This includes improving resistance to priority pests and diseases to reduce reliance on agrochemical inputs and also improve resilience to climate change.

Is "Net Zero in Farming" valid in a global context unless we grow a greater proportion of our food as well?

We are committed to ending the UK’s contribution to climate change through our net zero target, while also adapting to and building resilience against its effects. Under the Climate Change Act, the government has committed to reduce emissions by at least 100% of 1990 levels (net zero) by 2050. To meet this target, we have set five-yearly carbon budgets which restrict the amount of greenhouse gas the UK can legally emit in a five year period. The UK is currently in the third carbon budget period (2018 to 2022). We took decisive action in June of last year when we became the first major economy in the world to set a net zero emissions target in law and have already shown that, with our world-leading scientists, business leaders, and innovators, it is possible to cut emissions while growing the economy.

Between 1990 and 2018, we have reduced emissions by more than 40% while growing our economy by 75% – decarbonising our economy faster than any other G20 country.

A net zero target requires us to build on this progress by decarbonising the whole of our economy and society – our homes, our transport, our businesses, and how we generate and use energy. We want to decarbonise in a way that respects and enhances our natural environment. This means things like nature-based solutions, environmental net gain, and promoting biodiversity. The 25 Year Environment Plan and the Clean Growth Strategy set out specific commitments to reduce emissions from diverse sectors within Defra’s remit. Nature-based solutions are key to tackling climate change and averting its impacts and the Government is deploying such solutions to improve our natural environment, such as the £640 million for the Nature for Climate Fund, which will kick-start a step-change in tree planting and peatland restoration in England.

Our Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme is the cornerstone of our new agricultural policy. Founded on the principle of “public money for public goods”, ELM is intended to provide a powerful vehicle for achieving the goals of the 25 Year Environment Plan and commitment to net zero emissions by 2050, while supporting our rural economy. One of the public goods incentivised by ELM will be mitigation and adaption to climate change. For example, through peatland restoration, we can protect the existing carbon store and reduce emissions of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

Agricultural greenhouse gas emissions have reduced by 16 per cent since 1990, with many farms using more efficient agricultural practices. Improvements in agricultural practice mean that since 1990 we are producing a kilo of pork with 37% less emissions. Efficiency gains in dairy farming mean that we are now producing 9% more milk than we were in 2000 with 23% fewer cows.

What five top things do each of the panellists recommend farmers / land managers can adopt to improve efficiency towards a greener future?

Evidence suggests that there is no single thing that makes the difference between the top producers in the sector and less efficient producers. Attention to detail and care with nutrient inputs, whether through the advice of a good agronomist or precision application technology seem to be the fundamental drivers.

In straightforward terms, that could involve:
  • following best practice on fertiliser application (e.g. RB209)
  • ensuring compliance with SSAFO regulations
  • complying with Farming Rules for Water
Defra is continuing work to drive forwards productivity and efficiency across the sector throughout the transition period. We will offer financial assistance to enable farmers, foresters, and growers to invest in the equipment, technology, and infrastructure that they need to improve their productivity, manage the environment sustainably, and deliver other public goods.

What will this 'mini reset' from the Coronavirus crisis, and the advances in uptake and use of technology, allow us to do better/differently in working towards Net Zero?

In terms of advances in uptake and use of technology, I would like to mention the £90 million Industrial Challenge Fund challenge, Transforming Food Production (TFP). This aims to bring together artificial intelligence, robotics and earth observation to transform food production to boost productivity sustainably with the following primary aims:
  • the UK as a leading exporter of data-driven solutions supporting food production
  • Greater private sector investment into agri-technology
  • Reduce waste by 40% across food supply chains by 2030 and support achieving net zero emissions across UK agriculture by 2040
To deliver this, the TFP challenge has four main areas of R&D activity
  • Future Food Production Systems (£50m) – large scale projects to develop resource efficient, low emission food production systems to address technological bottlenecks impacting businesses on accessing new markets.
  • Science & Technology into Practice (£20M) - Feasibility studies and demonstration activities support precision approaches that will enable a step-change towards net zero emissions in food production.
  • International Collaboration (£10m) – Collaboration on R&D with China and Canada. Investment Accelerator (£10m) – Increasing private sector investment in R&D and agri-tech.

Should British supermarkets be subject to legislation to ensure that the imported products they sell meet UK standards?

The UK has high environmental, food safety and animal welfare standards and the Government is firmly committed to upholding them. The UK also maintains high standards on the information that is provided on food labels so that consumers can have confidence in the food that they buy.

We have recently announced the Government's commitment to a serious and rapid examination of what can be done to promote high standards and high welfare across the UK market and considering the case for consumer choice, including any role labelling can play. The Government intends to consult on this at the end of the transition period, considering the effect on industry, consumers, and on retailers.

We recognise too the crucial role played by the whole of the UK food industry, including all of the retail sector in maintaining the highest standards of food safety and consumer protection.

Will the shift to green combined with Brexit push prices up and be counter-productive to food security for our vulnerable and poor?

The Government monitors food prices on a monthly basis through the Consumer Prices Index, which also includes Housing Costs (CPIH).The Government has no direct control of global food commodity prices, or currency exchange rates, which are the most important drivers of change in the cost of food to consumers.

We want a relationship with the EU which is based on friendly cooperation between sovereign equals, and centred on free trade. There are currently no tariffs and no quotas for trade between the UK and EU; it is not unreasonable to think we could maintain tariff- and quota-free access. We will continue to work closely with industry to promote transparency for consumers, and internationally to promote open and sustainable global markets.

The Government is committed to take action to reduce environmental impacts, to mitigate climate change and to adapt to its impact. Last year the UK became the first major economy in the world to set a legally binding target to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions from across its economy by 2050. The Act allows us to meet our climate change commitments at the lowest possible net cost to UK taxpayers, consumers and businesses, while maximising the social and economic benefits to the UK of the transition.

What impact does improving farm productivity and operating on global markets have on the number of farming businesses?

Defra’s Future Farming and Countryside Programme aims to improve farming productivity through various schemes, which will enable domestic farmers to be more competitive in the global market. While the policy specifics are still being considered, we want to help new farmers enter the industry.

CHAP Webinar - Innovative tools to overcome the challenges of Regen Ag

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Applying principles of regen ag can incur a range of on-farm challenges. Learn how innovative tools & machinery can help with these hurdles.

This event will be held online from 1pm to 2pm on Thursday 2nd December 2021 so please block it out in your diary.

About this event​