Green Table – discussion on Agri-robotics

Just as the tractor revolutionised farming in the last century, a new generation of technologies are currently revolutionising farming. Tech developments are out there looking to displace the labour-intensive activities.

Retail cannot look too far into the future. they think short-medium term. The food service market thinks in 6-month cycles and “doesn’t like technology”. It is inherently resistant to change.

New foods not yet discussed. Renewable energy concerns impact on choices. Non-food crops will potentially increase at a time when we will need more domestic food. But the government is clearly not interested in addressing this. It is starting at a low base now, but it’s importance as a movement will increase. Whether it impacts in the medium term we will have to see.

Changing patterns of taste / cultural shift? Difficult to imagine big shifts in UK in the foreseeable.

How can Govt. redirect payments into environmentally-oriented projects (water, flood management, etc.)? We can not afford the shift away from food production.

Golf course or housing developments (diversification) have financial incentives for struggling farmers but that reduces the domestic food production. If you are doing environmental management against food production the incentives are way below what is possible to keep a business going.

We are used to having all food all year round. But if costs of producing are too severe will we return to more seasonal consumption? Difficult to imagine that happening.

Increase of middle classes in India and China will put pressures on global markets. Desire for fancier imported goods. There is a growing appetite and market in developing world.

Worrying and destabilising prospects for UK suppliers.

A woman at a presentation screen - Helen Ferrier Horizon Scanning
Helen Ferrier of the NFU

 

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