Why we need a National Academy for Sustainable Agriculture

Why we need a National Academy for Sustainable Agriculture

Why we need a National Academy for Sustainable Agriculture

A Food Research Collaboration Policy Insight

By Jo Price

UK agriculture faces a range of challenges, including an environmental crisis, pressures on land-use, competitiveness, technological innovation, and a growing population. Changes in practice and in leadership are urgently needed. This Policy Insight explores whether our agricultural universities and colleges are well enough resourced and appropriately staffed to produce graduates of the calibre needed to see the transition through.

Writing with the benefit of many years in higher education in the sector, Professor Jo Price argues that the successful implementation of sustainable agricultural policies will depend on better-funded, higher-quality and higher-prestige agricultural teaching and research. To achieve this, she calls for a long-term strategy for education and training in sustainable agriculture.

Agriculture should be classified as a STEM subject, and agriculture degrees should be funded at a high level, comparable to medicine or engineering. To unite these goals and chart a course, Professor Price proposes a National Academy of Sustainable Agriculture. And given we have a new king with well-known credentials in the field, she suggests that a major university could establish a Regius Chair in the subject.


Jo Price

Jo Price is an Emeritus Professor at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU), having served as Vice-Chancellor until 2021, the first woman to lead this small, specialist land-based institution since its foundation 176 years ago.  Jo joined the RAU from the University of Bristol where she was Head of the Veterinary School.

After qualifying, Jo spent a number of years working in veterinary practice before returning to academia.  Her research, funded mainly by the Wellcome Trust (at the University of Sheffield, University College London, and the Royal Veterinary College), addressed the mechanisms by which bone regenerates and adapts to mechanical loading.  The goal being to develop treatment and prevention strategies for diseases affecting skeletal fragility such as human osteoporosis and equine fractures.

Jo’s current and previous non-executive appointments reflect her strong interest in academic leadership, the potential role of resilient agriculture in the climate change agenda and the scientific and educational contribution required from universities and include: Council Member of the BBSRC; Member of Council of the Dyson Institute for Engineering and Technology; Chair of the Board of the University College of Osteopathy; Trustee of the Royal Agricultural Society of England and Director of Food and Farming Futures.

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