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New department set to deliver on future skills and knowledge for the agri-food and rural sectors

Posted 22 July

A headshot in front of foliage of Rebecca Payne, Head of the Food, Land and Agri-Business Management Department.

Harper Adams University has underlined its commitment to the support and development of sustainable agri-food and rural businesses by creating a new academic department firmly focussed on future skills development, enterprise assistance and research.

Combining the strengths and heritage of two previous departments, the Food, Land and Agri-Business Management Department will first focus on the development of new undergraduate degree programmes for future supply chain professionals which will be essential to realise the goals of the new National Food Strategy, the first independent review of the UK’s food system in 75 years, launched on July 15.

“To ensure we continue to deliver the kind of graduates the agri-food industry needs, we are conducting a full curriculum review to develop new courses that will grow grows student skill sets in innovation, enterprise, and sustainable supply chains alongside the traditional technical and commercial real-world skills associated with existing undergraduate programmes in these areas,” explained new Head of Department, Rebecca Payne.

The department will deliver the new food and business routes alongside the well-established Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors-accredited degrees in land and property management, including Rural Enterprise and Land Management, which has been taught at Harper Adams for more than 30 years and continues to evolve with the sector to deliver outstanding rural land management professionals. The REALM programme is complemented by routes in Rural Property Management and Real Estate.

Further course development is planned around apprenticeships – to build upon the success of existing Rural Chartered Surveyor and Food Industry Management routes – and in taught postgraduate programmes, which will have a focus on sustainable agribusiness practices and changes in consumption patterns in light of the National Food Strategy.

“Changes in both consumer behaviour and in policy have great implications for the agri-food sector. From new farm payment systems through to evolving dietary choices, with considerations for the environment, ethics, accessibility and more. With that in mind, we will be developing centres of excellence around a cohesive research agenda with a focus on one health-one welfare, economics of agricultural innovation, sustainable supply chains, food waste management and trade modelling for agriculture in pursuit of Net Zero,” Rebecca adds.

“Supporting rural and food businesses is at the heart of our mission, therefore we will set out to further build our relationships with stakeholders through knowledge exchange and strategic partnerships, to become a launchpad for new agri-tech/food businesses, to encourage adoption of emerging technologies and to play our part in the growth of a regional agri-food hub linked to the wider Ag-Active! agenda.”

Harper Adams Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Michael Lee, added: “The establishment of our exciting new Department exemplifies our commitment to grow the current expertise and strength we have at Harper Adams in Sustainable Agri-Food systems and rural land management.

“The creation of this new Department perfectly positions HAU to respond to the recommendations and challenges set out in the National Food Strategy around food culture, product innovation, agri-business support and sustainable land use.”

The new department will officially launch on August 1. The re-designed undergraduate routes are expected to open for applications for 2023 entry.

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