Industry coalition created to help raise farm productivity

An extensive coalition of leading industry bodies and organisations has come together to implement the AHDB’s new skills strategy and to transform agricultural productivity in the UK.

Group members include the NFU, AHDB, as well as agricultural colleges, leading food producers, manufacturers and retailers and will be led by CLA director general Helen Woolley.

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The coalition pointed out that just 35% of UK farmers have any form of formal management training and said this would need to be addressed to bridge the agricultural productivity gap between the UK and other nations.

What are the aims of the new skills strategy?

  • To create a new professional framework with qualifications relevant to the future need of employers.
  • Developing clear career paths with fresh approaches to recruitment.
  • Drive mechanisms to encourage continuing professional development and business support.

The move is a firm reply to criticisms of last week’s Agriculture Bill, which was widely criticised for neglecting to address food production productivity.

“I am glad to see industry taking the initiative to develop this much-needed skills strategy for the farming sector,” said Defra secretary Michael Gove.

“This is especially relevant as we look ahead to life outside the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy and the opportunity to make industry more competitive and profitable.”

Mr Gove added that the work carried out by the coalition would also form part of the Food and Drink Sector Council’s aim to improve industry productivity.

“I look forward to the group developing lasting solutions that work for the agriculture and horticulture industry, and equip the workforce for the future of farming,” Mr Gove added.

The group are still looking to add more individuals and organisations to its ranks. Interested parties should email Tessa Howe on

The Skills Senior Leadership Group

  • Helen Woolley – Country Land & Business Association Limited
  • Lord Donald Curry of Kirkeharle CBE
  • Richard Longthorp OBE – AgriSkills Forum
  • Dr David Llewellyn – Harper Adams University
  • Simon Gadd – National Farmers Union
  • Oliver Lee – Farmer
  • Jane King – AHDB
  • Louisa Bagshaw – Defra
  • Jonathan Back – Defra
  • Janet Swadling – former SRUC CEO, AHDB board member
  • John Shropshire OBE – chairman, G’s Fresh
  • Beverly Dixon – Group HR director, G’s Fresh
  • Guy Smith – NFU deputy president
  • Matthew Naylor – managing director, Naylor Flowers
  • Tess Howe – AHDB
  • Invited universities and colleges