Peter Abbott, Consul General for New England at the British Consulate General in Boston, was on campus today to explore farming practices that could help address the need to transform agriculture in the UK at a critical point in its history.
Abbott said Britain’s exit from the European Union will require a reshaping of agricultural and environmental practices. “It is an opportunity to completely turn the farming approach we have taken for the past 40-50 years on its head, mostly in relation to smallholder agriculture and regenerative agriculture.”
“We’re here to understand what makes Vermont so special and where there may be partnerships for UK research institutes, universities and the UK government to learn from Vermont’s experiences,” said Abbott.
Abbott and Tom Nickalls, Deputy Consul General, toured several of the UVM’s research facilities and listened to presentations on ongoing research and fieldwork in the fields of ecology, agriculture, and life sciences. The tour included presentations from Professors Taylor Ricketts, John Barlow, Heather Darby, Meredith Niles, V. Ernesto Mendez and CALS Dean Leslie Parise and their teams.
Abbott said UVM was playing a vital role in developing sustainable farming practices that the UK was interested in. âFarmers can only do so much research on their own, and they need partnerships like the one we have here at the University of Vermont; with the research laboratories, with the international faculty and students from around the world, including the UK, to promote the technological advancement that only a university can offer. “
Darby spoke about the importance of engaging the farming community in developing farming practices that lead to successful farms but also aim to protect the environment. “We need food, but we also need a clean environment, and those needs don’t have to be in conflict,” said Darby.
Among the areas of UVM faculty and student research that Abbott and Nickalls learned about was disease transmission work on small farms; Organisms useful to animals versus potential pathogens partnerships with cheese factories; Development of vaccines for cattle; Soil health; Nutrient management; Acceptance of catch crops; Pest control; Cultivation methods that may affect the taste of the product; Grain production; economic and social value of the preserved natural ecologies; and the environmental and social impact of alternative food systems.
The UVM tour began with a meeting and introduction with President Suresh Garimella and Vice President Research Kirk Dombrowski. It was part of a visit to Vermont that included a virtual meeting with Governor Phil Scott and a corporate round table to discuss the economic ties between the UK and Vermont.