Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
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Online discussion on the agricultural industry

The ability of England’s agricultural sector to withstand shocks and remain competitive is the subject of a 6 week online discussion forum launched yesterday.

The discussion is the latest step in engaging with stakeholders on the state of the industry with the aim to identify potential strategies to improve productivity and resilience in the farming industry.

The discussion builds on the views gathered at the workshop held by Defra on 16 July, which was attended by academics, industry representatives, policy makers and farmers.

Areas on which views are sought include:

  • The relationship between resilience and competitiveness;
  • Removing barriers to structural change in the industry, to increase competitiveness and make it better placed to withstand shocks (for example, economic issues or disease outbreaks);
  • Encouraging greater collaboration amongst farmers and better integration of the links in the food chain;
  • Encouraging effective exploitation of new technology;
  • Encouraging better take up of business management skills, including benchmarking performance against others and the use of risk management techniques; and
  • Addressing labour market issues, including possible shortages of skilled and unskilled labour in the immediate and longer term.

The discussion document can be found at and will be accessible until 23 December 2009.

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