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UEA experts to advise Norfolk farmers on ‘Brexit, Bees and the Brown Stuff’

PUBLISHED: 15:37 19 February 2018 | UPDATED: 14:40 06 March 2018

Honey bee on a flower at Hainford. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Honey bee on a flower at Hainford. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Financial experts and university academics will join forces to advise farmers how to navigate the biggest challenges facing their industry.

A recent survey by Norfolk-based accountancy firm Lovewell Blake found that Brexit, the environment and sustaining a profitable business were among the topics of greatest concern to farming enterprises.

So the firm is working with scientific, environmental and legal experts from the University of East Anglia to offer insight into tackling these challenges at a discussion and networking evening next month.

The “Brexit, Bees and the Brown Stuff” event will be chaired by Lovewell Blake’s agricultural partner Chris Solt at the UEA Enterprise Centre.

Speakers include Dr Lynn Dicks of the School of Biological Sciences, who is researching how to preserve and optimise the ecological function of “pollinators in peril”. Wild pollinators which are vital to crop production are declining worldwide, so Dr Dicks is working to assess the effectiveness of schemes to protect them – and contributing to the government’s Countryside Stewardship programme, which provides incentives for farmers to implement conservation schemes for pollinators and other wildlife.

Dr David Rose, an environmental geographer from the School of Environmental Sciences, will talk about how new technologies and agricultural innovation impacts society, and how to further engage farmers in agri-tech design.

And Prof Owen Warnock from the UEA’s School of Law will give a presentation entitled “Brexit and Food Law: Freedom or cast adrift?”

As most UK law on the production, distribution and sale of food and drink is derived from the EU, Prof Warnock will discuss which EU laws might be changed or relaxed relating to the labelling and advertising of health, origin and organic claims.

He will also explore what practical and legal problems might hinder food producers in making use of any new freedoms in food and drink marketing, outline what changes there could be to employment law following Brexit, and consider the implications of any changes to the agricultural industry.

The event, originally scheduled for March 14, has been postponed due to strike action at the UEA, resulting from the ongoing dispute between Universities UK (UUK) and the University and College Union (UCU) about proposed changes to pensions.

Joint organisers UEA and Lovewell Blake are liaising with speakers to set a new date after the strike action has ended. In a statement they said: “We apologise for any disappointment and inconvenience caused, and will make every effort to communicate further information about this event as it becomes available.”

• For more details and to register a place, see the Lovewell Blake website, or contact 01603 593443 or business@uea.ac.uk.

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