The Royal Agricultural University (RAU) plans to meet the needs of the UK’s land management and agri-food sectors, post-Brexit, through a £2.5m investment initiative.

The plan will see the RAU and its academic partners, the Countryside and Community Research Institute (CCRI) at the University of Gloucestershire and University College of Estate Management (UCEM), unite with industry stakeholders to drive future success in sustainable land management and food production.

Professor Joanna Price, Vice-Chancellor of the RAU, said: “This exciting initiative will address the unprecedented opportunities and challenges posed by the rapidly changing political, economic and natural environments by providing leadership training and education in the land management and agri-food sectors, especially suited to the post-Brexit era.

“Working closely with industry, we are establishing a new academic team and developing a set of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes that reflect the emerging needs of the sector.

Brexit offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the UK to embrace new approaches to managing land and the food supply chain; thus potentially enabling increased productivity while ensuring animal welfare, quality of habitats and the sustainability of rural communities.

“Our initiative enables the RAU to meet this need and, together with our academic and industry partners, drive the change and innovation required to capitalise on the opportunities and overcome the challenges which lie ahead.”

New academic positions

Meanwhile, two new senior academic positions in rural policy and food security have been announced by RAU. Professor Tom MacMillan has been appointed Elizabeth Creak Chair in Rural Policy and Strategy, joining from the Soil Association where he is currently Director of Innovation.

His recent work includes establishing the Innovative Farmers’ network and advising the RSA Food, Farming and Countryside Commission.

Louise Manning will join as Professor of Agri-food and Supply Chain Security. Louise returns to the RAU after three years at Harper Adams University where she is currently Reader in Food Policy and Management.

She has worked for over 30 years in a range of academic and industry roles. Her expertise is in food integrity, including food safety and quality, food crime, governance, social and corporate responsibility.