Shropshire Star

Princess Anne joins debate as Harper Adams University launches forum on farming and food

Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal was among those who shared her views at the launch of the Harper Adams University Global Policy Forum.

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Vice-Chancellor Professor Ken Sloan, Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal, Harper Adams University Secretary Dr Catherine Baxter, Professor Jude Capper and Harper Adams final year student Rhodri Williams

Princess Anne joined a host of leading voices gathered to consider the challenges in achieving Net Zero in farming and food at the launch of the forum, which took place in London.

A panel from across the agricultural and food sectors gathered together to consider the challenges of transforming each, both in the UK and globally.

Each an expert in their area, they considered the challenges of making the goal of achieving net zero realistic and attainable for every day farmers and food producers.

Broadcaster Julia Bradbury chaired a lively discussion between the panellists, comprising the director of Food Matters International Judith Batchelar OBE; director at Carbon Metrics and Harper Adams alumna, Helen Dent; professor of food policy at City University Timothy Lang; and deputy vice-chancellor of Harper Adams University, Professor Michael Lee.

As well as joining the debate, Her Royal Highness also met with the panel and a number of key partners and delegates at a reception following the debate including partners in the School of Sustainable Food and Farming, staff from Rabobank, staff and students from Harper Adams University, and a group of young people with interests in the food and farming sector, including pupils from Westminster Academy in West London.

The pupils visited Harper Adams, in Newport, earlier this year for an ‘eye-opening’ insight into all things food and farming – which was filmed for BBC TV’s Countryfile – and were invited to the event to pose their questions to the panel.

The event –before an audience of figures across the food and farming sectors – was held at Rabobank’s London headquarters thanks to the bank’s generous support as host.

Host Julia said: “The importance of debating these issues can’t be underestimated. It’s crucial that we find remedies to these complex problems and it’s clear we need cross-sector co-operation from Government, agriculture and food supply chains.

“The evening’s debate highlighted that solutions are vital – for our health, and the health of our animals, plants and planet.

“Chairing a debate between some of the expert voices who are working to make that difference was fascinating – the way we consider these issues is one of the key challenges we face.”

It was the first event held as part of the ongoing Harper Adams University Global Policy Forum, a new initiative to increase the University’s engagement with Government, policy makers, business leaders and other opinion formers.

It also marked the first anniversary of the launch of the School of Sustainable Food and Farming, an initiative developed jointly with McDonald's UK&I, Morrisons and the NFU, which aims to educate, inspire and empower current and future farmers to achieve net-zero within a sustainable farming and food system.

Harper Adams Vice-Chancellor Professor Ken Sloan said: “It has been a challenging twelve months for the farming and food sector, with Covid, inflation and the war in Ukraine putting even more obstacles in the way of us getting nutritious, affordable food to our own, and the world’s population, in the most sustainable way we can.

“As the UK’s largest provider of graduate talent to the farming and food industries, and as a significant contributor of research and innovation, including through our own Future Farm, Harper Adams has a responsibility to step up and help to identify and disseminate practical solutions to the pressing problems we face.

“We are currently finalising a new strategic plan for the university and our vision for Harper Adams 2030 will put greater emphasis on collaboration, global engagement and thought leadership alongside the strengths for which we are already known."