Farmers, researchers and the supply chain are to share the stage during the seminar programme at BP2017 as the potato industry reviews current performance to develop its future.
November 22 and 23 marks the first time the biennial event has taken place since the EU referendum, and seminar programme organisers AHDB Potatoes will encourage collaboration as a route to success for the industry.
To stimulate discussion and develop closer relationships with members of the supply chain, this years’ event includes a panel debate on ‘The Big Brexit Opportunity,’ which will benefit from contributions from all sectors of the potato industry.
Rob Clayton, Potatoes Strategy Director at AHDB said: “BP2017 provides a chance for the industry to pull together, discuss opportunities and take stock of the current challenges faced. This considered approach is needed to prepare to move forward, with rapid change on the horizon.
“Opportunities must be taken quickly. Those who do nothing risk being left behind as change carries on. We are trying to encourage farmers to wake-up and avoid ‘sleep-walking’ into Brexit.”
The exhibition, held at the Harrogate Showground, is the only event attended by the entire industry, from ‘seed to shopping trolley’. The chair of the NFU Potato Forum will form part of the panel on Brexit, he farms pigs, produces peas and arable crops alongside potatoes for the pre-pack market.
Alex Godfrey, said: “Forward thinking potato growers will be looking to the opportunity Brexit presents to replace potatoes imported from within the EU with British grown product.
“However, labour shortages and risk associated with a mishandled ‘lift and shift’ of EU crop protection rules into UK law, could deny us access to activities and trade. But if it heralds the start of a move to a new science based, risk based regime then we will all benefit.”
The Brexit debate and a session focussed on learning from other major potato producing nations form part of a series of seminars focussed on how the potato industry can remain competitive.
Rufus Pilgrim, Commercial Director at potato supplier R S Cockrills, recently completed a Nuffield Scholarship and study tour of major potato producing nations. Speaking ahead of his contribution to AHDB Potatoes ‘Lessons from Global Producers’ seminar he said:
“We have much to be positive about in our industry; having the climate, marketplace, resources, knowledge but few of the environmental, political and social challenges that affect other potato producing regions.
”While we may celebrate this, we cannot rely on ‘GB only’ policies to maintain our industry”
There will be 11 seminars held in total at the two-day event, which will see over 6,000 potato professionals through its doors.
Rob Clayton said: “Along with our review of competitiveness we will consider how our customers are changing, be they consumers at the supermarket or the nation states that buy British seed potatoes through our existing EU trade agreements. We will call on researchers to take the stage with growers as we consider productivity. And our team will be on hand to discuss market volatility, as we continue to lead the debate and engender discussion on the key issues that affect us all.”
The full programme can be viewed at bp2017.co.uk