PROCESSORS AND retailers should be prepared to contribute to develop farming systems which could improve milk and meat quality, believes Raymond Jones, who leads IGER”s livestock systems and land use team.

Consumers are already contributing indirectly through research funding agencies, he says. But he reckons new money must be found to cope with the scale of work required in a response to stricter food safety, pollution control and environmental protection regulations.

“Researchers have to react to new EU policies, issues including cross-compliance and the demands of the food chain. Producers, processors, retailers and consumers have to get involved.”

Food companies could enhance the wholesomeness and shelf life of milk, dairy products and meat by helping finance work on livestock nutrition and breeding. If those beyond the farm gate could be persuaded to get on board, researchers could also improve farming”s production efficiency and reduce risks of pollution and environmental damage.

 “The sort of integrated research programme I have in mind would cost about 400,000 a year,” Mr Jones estimated. His team was already attempting to attract money to begin such work and to convince funding bodies it had ideal facilities, with its 575 dairy cows, 500 beef cattle and 3000 sheep.