Business Secretary calls for new tech revolution in agriculture

28th February 2018

Business Secretary Greg Clark announced £90 million for agri-tech in a keynote speech to the National Farmers’ Union Conference on 21st Fewbruary 2018. 

In a keynote speech to the National Farmers’ Union conference, the Business Secretary highlighted how new technology is boosting farmers’ earning power and making agri-businesses more productive and profitable than ever before.

To make it easier for farmers and agricultural supply-chain businesses to embrace technology and innovation, Mr Clark today announced £90 million of new funding to bring together the UK’s world-class agri-food sector with expertise in robotics, AI and data science.

The funding, delivered as part of the new the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, will make it easier for food and agri-business to embrace technology and innovation that will be critical to meeting the increasing food demands of a growing population, fuel rural growth and create high-skilled jobs.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said:

  • As someone who has known all my life that farming is foundational not just to our economy, but to our country. Providing the food and drink we live on and stewarding the countryside that is so much part of our national and local identity means there is no more essential industry.
  • The agricultural sector is the biggest industrial sector in the UK, Employing almost 4 million people and larger than the automotive and aerospace sectors combined.
  • For your unique role in stewardship and in feeding the nation like big industry, you need to be profitable and we need to help make the conditions right for investment in the future.
  • With the technological revolution that is happening, the skills of the farming workforce need to keep pace. New technologies require new abilities and today’s modern British farmer is a Swiss-Army-Knife of skills. An engineer, an environmentalist, a data scientist a biochemist, an energy producer, a tourism entrepreneur, and an investor too.
  • As part of the Industrial Strategy, we announced a Transforming Food Production Challenge and I’m delighted to announce the government will invest £90 million to make this challenge a reality.
  • This will include the creation of ‘Translation Hubs’ bringing together farmers and growers businesses, scientists and Centres for Agricultural Innovation to apply the latest research to farming practice.