NORTH-EAST director of the NFU, Adam Bedford, attended a meeting at Newcastle University this month to hear about how the government’s industrial strategy could help boost productivity across the country, and what it could do for agriculture.

The industrial strategy aims to help transform the country’s economy through more investment in technology, innovation, infrastructure upgrades and sector productivity.

“The event was about how we make sure rural areas don’t miss out on what can too often be a policy aimed at urban areas,” Adam said. “And there is a lot to miss out on if rural areas aren’t covered.

A large chunk of the £750m which the government has put into a ‘challenge fund’ for innovation has been destined for ‘transforming food production,’ Adam said, but his job is to question in what ways this policy could help benefit farmers in his region.

“The answer could be ‘quite a lot’ if we can make sure the industry is properly involved in this strategy,” Adam said.

“One issue discussed was how to help farmers make better use of data, as an unbelievable amount of data is now collected, but apparently only around two per cent of it is ever used.

“Accessible data can help boost productivity which is what industrial strategy is about.

“I left the event feeling excited about how we can link farming and research in our region. The universities in Newcastle with its research farms, the colleges such as Kirkley Hall, for example, all combined with innovative work on-farm and in food processing means there is scope for more involvement in this emerging policy area.”