Introduction

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Jim Godfrey OBE, farmer and member of the Joint Commissioning Group,

This document represents the first time in my lifetime that UK primary producers have come together to identify their research and development priorities for the next 20 years.  It is timely because Government is developing its own Agri-Technology Strategy and is using this document to help develop their strategy.

The commissioning group with a representative from each of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), the Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) and the Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC) was formed and supported by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) with Professor Chris Pollock as the independent editor.

The resulting report has built upon existing R&D priorities from the different sectors both within and from those outside of the AHDB. As part of the evidence gathering process, the group conducted a number of workshops and has consulted widely to produce a document which articulates farmers and growers views of their priorities for research over the next two decades.  It has identified gaps in current research and also looked at research and innovation in agriculture and horticulture as a whole system.  It is a document that we will take to the funders of research and development, which includes the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland devolved administrations, the Department for International Development (DfID), the TSB, AHDB and the private sector to influence their funding priorities so that we as a nation achieve greater coordinated strategic  planning and implementation of the available resources to improve the productivity, competitiveness and sustainability of UK agriculture and horticulture.

UK farmers and growers have a good record of innovation and will work more closely with research partners on agreed priorities and will deliver what is required.  This document is the start of that process, we must ensure it is delivered, however it will require updating as the technologies and challenges of feeding the UK and world population change.

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