Centre for Rural Economy

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Improving dairy farming for the environment and farmers

Researchers from Newcastle University are leading a major new project that aims to make the UK dairy industry more sustainable and resilient.

The £1.5M project funded by BBSRC, ESRC and NERC, is being led by Principal Investigator Professor Mark Reed in collaboration with the Universities of Leeds and Liverpool under the Global Food Security programme. The researchers are working together as part of the N8 AgriFood programme, and will be collaborating with Nestle, Business in the Community, the Rivers Trusts, Innovation for Agriculture, 3Keel, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, Catchment Senstive Farming, FirstMilk and other stakeholders in the dairy industry and Government. The team will be looking in particular at issues around environmental impact, animal health and farmer incomes in the post Brexit UK.

Lead Principal Investigator Professor Mark Reed (Newcastle) explained: “The project is about balancing competing demands and pressures in the industry.  We aim to explore innovative ways of making dairy systems better for the natural environment and for farmers’ livelihoods, while maintaining long term supplies for consumers at reasonable prices, at a time of unpredictable challenges like climate change.”

The research is part of a £4.9 million investment by the UK Research Councils to further increase resilience and sustainability of the UK food system. Science Minister, Jo Johnson, said: “The Global Food Security programme is an excellent example of interdisciplinary research, bringing together a range of expertise across the biological, environmental and social sciences to address the many uncertainties facing the UK’s food system.

 “Research is a vital part of our Industrial Strategy, and by increasing funding in this area we are helping ensure the future security of the UK food sector, while reinforcing our position as a world leader in science and innovation.”

The award adds another component to the broad range of research and work with the farming community undertaken by Newcastle University Agriculture. Earlier this year the CHAP and C-DIAL facilities, part of the Government’s Agritech Strategy, were launched along with NU Farms, a new teaching, research and engagement platform for agriculture.  The Farm Business Survey based at the University continues to provide free benchmarking data to more than 200 farms in the North East of England and the University’s Centre for Rural Economy is providing guidance to the highest levels of government including the UN and the Scottish parliament.

published on: 11 October 2017