Two-pronged approach needed to highlight importance of animal science in Brexit discussions

Scientists need to demonstrate the positive impact animal science has on UK livestock production so it is not left behind in Brexit discussions, leading researchers have said. 

Delegates at the British Society of Animal Science Conference in Chester agreed a two-pronged approach was needed to highlight what British animal science provides on a global scale, with clear examples of how research impacts on UK agricultrure.

The comments came as the society unveiled its Brexit white paper, which set out five key areas Government must focus on for sustainability of UK livestock production and research.

Speaking at the launch, Dr Sinclair Mayne from Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute said: “We need to put numbers on the research that has been put into farmer practice and has helped improve efficiency.”

Sophie Throup of Raft Solutions, agreed case studies were an important element to show the importance of animal science research on food production.

“We need to show Government what we are worth to the UK economy; our exports products, strength of research skills and case studies where we have made a difference. We can then put forward the five key points set out in our white paper,” she said.

BSAS President Professor Liam Sinclair warned that without applied research, food security would be at risk.

“If there isn’t a substantial amount of applied research and knowledge transfer to allow the livestock industry to improve its efficiency and profitability then food security will be seriously challenged.

“What’s more, without giving producers the support they need to survive and successfully develop their businesses outside the EU we risk being left with fewer animals, an altered landscape, and shattered rural economies.

“Coming out of the EU means the end of the CAP and single farm payments, and if we want to extend our global competitiveness and maintain our current standards of production, food quality and animal welfare, it is essential that Government develops well thought out, focused policies that are based on sound evidence and supported by targeted incentives.

“This is a chance to join up thinking across government and the industry as a whole. It will be difficult to do, but it’s vital that it happens.”

The five points set out in the white paper, which was created by  a team of leading farmers, advisors and animal scientists, are:

1. Additional government support must target applied research which drives

innovation, has rapid impact and adds value                                             

2. Policies must improve competitiveness and be evidence-based

3. UK Scientists must have access to European research funding

4. The UK livestock workforce must have appropriate skills and training

5. Support for livestock production and research underpin UK food security, biodiversity, tourism and the rural economy