Kendall calls for rethink on R&D

NFU president Peter Kendall has called for a more imaginative approach to increase investment in agricultural research and development.

DEFRA investment in agricultural R&D amounted to little more than £20m a year, the told delegates at the Norfolk Farming Conference on Wednesday (25 February).

It was no easy task to attract investment during a recession, Mr Kendall suggested. But the government and farmers could both play their part in helping to attract R&D money into the industry.

In the theatre, investors were regarded as “angels” and granted tax incentives because the performing arts was seen as a risky business. Agriculture should be afforded similar tax breaks, said Mr Kendall.

A more positive outlook among farmers could also help to attract investment from outside the industry. “If we want people to take our industry seriously, farmers telling people how bad it is, is not the way to progress the debate.

“Collectively we have to think of ways of putting money in. We need to change the mindset that says this is not our responsibility. But the government could use the carrot of tax breaks to encourage investment too.”

Mr Kendall said he had challenged retailers to invest in sourcing with integrity and demonstration farms.

“We want the UK to be the exporter of agricultural knowledge and solutions around the world and delivering for UK farmers at the same time.”

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