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The future of agriculture

Agriculture is vulnerable to production risks at the best of times, but the global pandemic has presented some of the toughest challenges the sector has faced. Paul Golden considers the future of the industry

Economic analysisFarming has always been highly vulnerable to production risks – from extreme weather, such as flooding or drought, to infections such as foot and mouth or mad cow disease. But COVID-19 has thrown up a host of new challenges for the sector in the UK, which in 2019 employed 476,000 people and had a total value of output worth £27.3bn.

Reduced milk demand following the suspension of coffee shops and other hospitality businesses forced some dairy farmers to pour milk down the drain – up to 1.15 million litres by mid-May according to the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers. In contrast, those supplying milk processors with supermarket contracts saw demand increase.