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Climate change and labour shortages top of agenda for potato sector conference

The online conference takes place on January 26.

How best to tackle climate change and labour shortages in the potato sector will be discussed at an online conference next week.

The SAC Association of Potato Producers (SACAPP) annual conference, organised by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), will take place online on Wednesday January 26.

Speakers include Julian Bell from SAC Consulting, who will discuss the drive to tackle climate change and meet net-zero targets, and Professor Simon Pearson from the Lincoln Institute for Agri-Food Technology, who will provide insight into different technical innovations designed to address labour and skills shortages in the sector.

Other speakers include Dr Neil Gudmestad from North Dakota State University in the USA, Inverness-based Organic Potato Growers and Nessgro managing director Steven Jack, and Graham Tomalin from VCS Potatoes Ltd in Suffolk.

Dr Gudmestad will discuss how different time zones, climates and markets affect potato crops, while Mr Jack will explain how to take control of the supply chain and Mr Tomalin will share best practice from farms in the east of England.

An expert panel, which includes Patrick Hughes from the newly established Scottish Agri Export Hub and Alistair Melrose from J & E Smillie, based near Perth, will discuss the current seed potato export situation, while a range of scientists will discuss current research that will influence the direction of the potato sector in the future.

“This conference provides our members and others in the potato sector with an excellent opportunity to hear from the experts and to reflect on the future direction of the potato sector at a time of enormous change,” said event organiser Dr Philip Burgess, lead researcher and consultant for Scottishpotatoes.org – a partnership between SRUC, the James Hutton Institute and Science & Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA).

The conference, which runs from 9.45an until 3.30pm, is free for SACAPP members and £10 for non-members. Full details, including how to sign up, are online here.

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